After two weeks of blocks-long backups and late school buses, state transportation officials hope a new traffic metering light to be installed...

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After two weeks of blocks-long backups and late school buses, state transportation officials hope a new traffic metering light to be installed tomorrow can be used to control traffic at the clogged East Bellevue roundabout.

The state Department of Transportation (DOT) redesigned the traffic circle at Lakemont Boulevard Southeast and West Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast over the summer, eliminating two right-turn lanes to enlarge the circle into one big lane that would be easier for buses and trucks to navigate.

The changes prompted protests and e-mails from scores of angry neighbors.

The new design eased evening congestion, said Lorena Eng, the DOT’s Northwest region administrator, but the missing turn lanes also forced all traffic to merge. In the mornings, that meant gridlock as cars competed to reach Interstate 90, nearby Sunset Elementary or the grocery or to get from one stretch of West Lake Sammamish Parkway to the other for a shortcut to Redmond.

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The morning backup prompted the school to adjust its bus-pickup schedule earlier to help students arrive by the 8:30 a.m. start, said Jo Porter, transportation director for the Issaquah School District.

“Last [school] year it was working for us. We were getting to school on time. It’s as different as night and day,” Porter said. “We know traffic grows, but I don’t think it could grow this much in three months. People are just sitting there.”

The state also plans to restore at least one of the turning lanes by year’s end. It has added a question-and-answer section to the project’s Web site at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I90/SammamishRoundabout/Questions.htm

Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or kgaudette@seattletimes.com