A 30-unit apartment complex is going up in south Richland on a small parcel of land along busy Steptoe Street.
Richland city officials said motorists and residents shouldn't be concerned about seeing an increase in traffic.
Crews already have been grading the 785 Canyon St. property, which before the end of the year is expected to become Canyon Crest Apartments. The driveway into the complex will be off Canyon Street, just up the hill from the Steptoe intersection near the railroad tracks.
The $3.5 million project is being built by T.R. Masterson Construction and is maximizing the 1.24-acre land by building up three stories, said Rick Simon, Richland's development services manager.
The size of each individual unit is not known, but the entire building will be 41,440 square feet with 60 parking spaces on site including carports, Simon said.
Some neighbors had expressed concerns to Richland about the complex's location on the southwest corner of Canyon and Steptoe and traffic in the growing area, but the city doesn't yet see the need for road improvements, said transportation engineer Steve Stairs.
During the development review, engineers looked at the plans and determined the site distance is good for motorists driving on Canyon and those pulling out of the driveway, he said. It helps that the complex has been pushed back as far as possible on the lot so drivers "can see up and down the street," he said.
Stairs also said there have been comments from the neighborhood that drivers are going too fast on Canyon, but the apartments shouldn't influence that "because one direction is going up the hill and the other is getting ready to stop for the stop sign."
Another complaint has been that it can be difficult during the busy commute times to turn left off Canyon onto northbound Steptoe, he said.
What many motorists don't know is that it's legal for them to pull into the center turn lane and wait for northbound Steptoe traffic to clear before merging into the left lane, Stairs said. Cars also can take a detour and head toward Bellerive Drive up to Gage Boulevard, and use the stop lights to turn onto Steptoe, he said.
City engineers have not ruled out the possibility of installing a stop light at the Steptoe and Canyon intersection, but first want to wait for Steptoe to eventually connect to Clearwater Avenue and watch for any changes in traffic patterns and volume.
Stairs said he also explained to concerned residents that at some point in the future, a roundabout will be constructed at the railroad tracks on Steptoe, with Tapteal Drive to the north realigned so it feeds directly into that roundabout. The tracks will go through the middle of the traffic circle and the gates will come down outside the circle on both sides of Steptoe to stop cars.
A roundabout already exists at Steptoe and Columbia Park Trail next to Highway 240.
A timeframe for that "unique" roundabout further up Steptoe is not known because it is mostly development driven, Stairs explained. The city is waiting for movement on the 18 acres of property to the southwest of the tracks. What used to be a gravel pit is owned by Robert Young and Associates and was planned six years ago to be a high-end shopping center.