Tri-City drivers might soon see some changes to the length of time they have to stay stopped at a traffic light, while pedestrians will know exactly how much time they have to safely cross at some intersections.
Kennewick and Richland were among 40 cities in the state -- nine in Eastern Washington -- to receive a share of $50 million in federal safety funds, said officials with the state Department of Transportation.
Cities with a high number of intersection-related crashes also were eligible for funding. The federal grant is administered by the transportation department.
Kennewick received a $2.12 million grant to conduct a traffic study on Clearwater Avenue from Leslie Road to Highway 395.
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The plan is to "study the corridor to see where the problems areas are and identify potential solutions and issued with different traffic movements," said Ken Nelson, the city's assistant public works director.
The city also got $350,000 to implement some citywide safety improvements. Plans include re-timing traffic signals to improve the flow of traffic, installing yellow flashing lights in school zones and having audible and visual countdowns for pedestrians at crosswalks.
"We're looking for some access improvements through the corridor with the mind of reducing accidents and crashes," he said.
Richland also received two grants, totaling $745,000.
One project will focus on the first intersection on the way into Richland on George Washington Way at Columbia Point Drive.
"It's the highest-accident intersection and the highest traffic volume intersection in the city," said Jeff Peters, Richland's transportation and development manager. "It's kind of our No. 1 problem child."
The $445,000 grant may be used to realign the left turns on Columbia Point Drive and Aaron Drive, he said.
Right now, the city is studying the intersection to see if there are better, longer-term solutions that they can use the grant money toward to improve the intersection.
"We were hopeful we would get this grant so we would be able to do something," once the study is completed.
The city previously has changed the left turn signal from George Washington Way onto the side streets to a dedicated light -- instead of always having a flashing yellow arrow -- which has helped reduce collisions, Peters said.
If the study doesn't come up with better option, Peters said they know at a minimum that fixing the left turns onto George Washington Way will help.
Right now, the left turns are offset and can't be operated at the same time because cars would have to occupy the same spot in the intersection. That means drivers on George Washington Way have to wait longer to get a green light.
If the turn lanes are realigned so traffic in both directions from the side streets can turn left onto George Washington Way at the same time, it would reduce the wait time at the intersection, he said.
Richland also received a $300,000 grant to add countdown displays on crosswalks at 18 intersections.
They also will be upgrading the traffic engineering software to improve the signal controls and timing and will add push buttons and flashing yellow lights at the crosswalk on Leslie Road where the walking trail crosses.
The goal of the grant funding program is to have all the work completed by fall 2015.