KENDALL - A chapel nestled in the triangle formed by Mount Baker Highway and Kendall Road is no longer in the bull's-eye of a proposed roundabout.
Kendall Chapel pastor Vern Yadon said the small nondenominational church will remain standing because the state will build its roundabout away from the church and an adjoining building, on the northwest corner of the triangle near the North Fork Community Library.
The sweeping curve southeast of the chapel would be eliminated, converting the intersection into a "T" with a roundabout.
The pastor had been concerned because one of eight options for intersection improvements introduced last year by the state Department of Transportation put the roundabout directly over the chapel. Some of the other roundabout designs impinged far enough onto the church property to make it unusable.
"We're delighted," said Yadon, who talked as if the state had made a final decision on the roundabout's location.
DOT project engineer Chris Damitio said he wouldn't use the word "decision" quite yet.
"I'd hate to use that word," Damitio said. "We have shared with Vern a direction we want to go. ... There's a lot of investigation we have to do."
The state wants to make sure it can properly treat runoff from the new roundabout. The results of soil studies should be known in about a month, Damitio said.
"If everything comes back positive, then that'll lead us to finalize a footprint," he said.
The next step, Damitio said, would be for DOT to negotiate with Yadon and other property owners to acquire small pieces of their land. Yadon figures he'll lose about 1,100 square feet, well away from the chapel.
Construction is slated for summer 2016.
The triangular intersection of two state highways provides multiple opportunities for crashes, DOT officials have said. The intersection had 23 reported collisions from 2003 to 2012, including 13 with injuries, according to state data. A $2.4 million federal grant will cover most of the project cost.
The roundabout now being studied is smaller than those shown to the public in November at an open house. State officials are confident the roundabout will work, even for trucks, because it's the same size as the one at Nugents Corner.
Yadon credited media attention prior to the open house for the state's change of direction. He estimated 80 to 100 people came to the meeting "and unanimously requested that the chapel be spared."
A church has been on that site since 1901.
"As you can see, the community's voices were listened to," Yadon wrote in a letter to The Bellingham Herald postmarked Feb. 11.
Damitio confirmed this but said taking public opinion into account wasn't unique to the Kendall project.
"Public input is always an important factor in making sure we get the right decision," he said.
ON THE WEB
For more information on the proposed roundabout, go to wsdot.wa.gov and type "Kendall intersection" in the search box.