Richland puts stamp on transportation plan

Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldJune 24, 2014 

The Richland City Council has once again approved a transportation plan with the extension of Rachel Road.

The 5-2 vote during a special meeting Tuesday was something of a do-over.

The council last week approved the six-year Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, following a lengthy public hearing.

But a planning commission member later checked on whether the action met city code requirements.

A section of the code says that, "issues for which the council holds public hearings shall be voted on only after at least one week has passed," unless the issue is an emergency or noncontroversial or the vote is to approve the first reading of an ordinance.

The city attorney said in a statement Monday that the city was looking into the issue, and that the council would take another vote on the transportation plan and on the shoreline master program update -- which also had a public hearing last week -- out of an abundance of caution and to meet deadlines.

The council vote on the transportation plan last week was 3-2, with two members absent.

Those members -- Bob Thompson and Gregory L. Jones -- were present Tuesday. They voted with the majority to approve the plan, noting it's a planning tool and that there would be more study before the extension could go forward.

"This, I guess, is a placeholder -- how I view this. Not everybody is going to agree with our decision. But I can tell you this, if you don't plan for -- and reject the idea of even planning -- that's a mistake (for) future generations in Richland," Thompson said.

City staffers have said extending Rachel from Leslie Road to Steptoe Street would improve safety and quality of life by relieving traffic congestion and improving connectivity for pedestrians, bicyclists and emergency vehicles.

But numerous community members have spoken out against it, with many citing concerns about harm to the Amon Creek Natural Preserve, which would be in the path of the extension. Some who live on the existing Rachel Road also have brought up concerns.

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

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