Kennewick is moving forward on up to six high-priority projects to improve safety on Clearwater Avenue.
The city council Tuesday unanimously approved an access management plan for one of Kennewick’s most heavily traveled roads.
The plan, created after extensive public outreach, includes a tentative list of safety-focused projects and creates standards for new development along the busy corridor between Highway 395 and Leslie Road.
In three years, Clearwater Avenue has had 356 collisions, including some fatal accidents, according to the city. The incidents range from rear-end collisions to right-angle crashes and sideswipes as drivers try to move their vehicles around other cars.
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The eastern, older portion of Clearwater Avenue has many driveways and areas with blocked views that create safety hazards. City officials hope the new standards will help avoid similar safety concerns on the western portion as it develops.
The standards mean new driveways would need to be between 250 to 360 feet from an intersection or other driveways, for example. The exact distance would depend on the posted speed.
However, traffic engineer John Deskins said the city would be able to modify that distance for places where it wouldn’t work, such as for small lots.
Among the suggested projects are about $1.1 million worth of improvements to Clearwater Avenue west of Highway 395.
The driveways to Walgreens and Gold’s Gym nearest the Highway 395 intersection would be restricted to right turn only. An eastbound lane would be added on Clearwater Avenue at the intersection to improve capacity and reduce queuing.
Two business owners near this project told the city council they are concerned about how their businesses would be affected. One said he did not want to just see traffic issues moved farther west on Clearwater.
None of the projects are finalized yet, said Kennewick Mayor Steve Young. Business owner input will be sought before proposing any projects for construction.
City officials still need to identify which projects will go forward with final designs and right of way purchases, Deskins said.
About $1.75 million should be left to implement the plan, Deskins said. Officials hope to be able to tackle four to six of the projects suggested by the plan.
The city received a $2.12 million federal grant to create the access plan and provide some right of way and construction money. The city will apply for other safety grants in an effort to finish the top-priority projects, Deskins said.
The recommended projects include:
• $250,000 to create new full-access driveways on each side of Clearwater Avenue east of Union Street about 350 feet back from the intersection to improve safety. Driveways before the new driveways would become right-turn only, using curbs to prevent left-hand turns.
• $120,000 for Arthur Street intersection improvements, including adding a crosswalk on the west side of the intersection. Pedestrians would be able to activate flashing lights at the crosswalk. The project also would create a north side bus pull-out area to eliminate queuing behind buses. The private south Arthur Street would become right turn only.
• $1.2 million for Union Street safety improvements, including consolidating some driveways and restricting the WinCo Foods driveway to allow for only right turns. The north side bus stop would be moved farther west into a pull-out area to avoid queuing behind buses.
• a $31,000 project west of Columbia Center Boulevard where the north side driveway would become right turn only and the south side driveway would not allow left turns out of the driveway.
• a $66,000 project at the Morain Street intersection where a short median would be added to limit access to the driveways immediately to the east of the intersection. Existing driveways and the traffic signal would still allow for access to those businesses.