Group wants Richland to study controversial Rachel Road extension

By Sara Schilling Tri-City HeraldMay 29, 2014 

Amon Creek Field Trip

Badger Mountain Elementary School second grade students, from left, Cherry Lu, Kiersten Berry, Keegan Call and Avery Ly react to touching a bull snake Thursday during a field trip at Amon Creek Natural Preserve. "This is one of my favorite field trips," said teacher Sali Durfee, "we get a real look at things we have been studying in books all year."

SARAH GORDON — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Richland's six-year Transportation Improvement Program will head to the city council with the planning commission's recommendation -- but also with the request that the council prioritize a study of the controversial Rachel Road extension.

The commission wants the study to bring in the public and others involved and look at options including not building the road at all.

The commission also wants the study done before any future work on the road.

"I think we need to do the study. I think we need to have people's input," said James Utz, chairman of the planning commission, during the group's meeting Wednesday night.

The nine-member commission's vote was unanimous and came about 11 p.m. after almost four hours of public comments and discussion.

The council will have the final say on the Transportation Improvement Program, and is expected to discuss it at a meeting in mid- June.

The city doesn't immediately plan to extend Rachel Road, but a connection between Leslie Road and Steptoe Street has been identified for years as an eventual need.

The future connection has gained attention in recent months as the proposed Clearwater Creek subdivision worked its way through city government. The city is requiring right of way in the subdivision for the road.

Numerous community members have opposed developing the road at public meetings, primarily because of concern about harm to the Amon Creek Natural Preserve. The preserve is between Leslie Road and the proposed subdivision, in the path of the potential future road.

The Kennewick School District is interested in land for a future elementary school within Clearwater Creek and has said a road from Leslie near Rachel to the subdivision would be needed to accommodate traffic from the school and create enough access.

The subdivision isn't yet a done deal, but the city council is expected to vote Tuesday on the preliminary plat and finalizing some zoning changes to make way for the project.

-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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