Now's the chance to tell the city of Kennewick how the busy business corridor of Clearwater Avenue can be improved to increase safety and ease congestion.
Comments from business owners and the public will help the city and consultants form a plan for safety improvements along the 5.5-mile stretch of Clearwater Avenue between Highway 395 and Leslie Road.
A $2.12 million federal grant is paying to create an access plan using public input, as well as providing money for some construction and to buy right of way land.
Safety is the top reason improvements are being looked at along Clearwater, said Ryan Durham, the city's project manager.
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In three years, Clearwater Avenue has had 356 collisions, including some fatal accidents, according to the city. Crashes range from rear-end collisions to right angle crashes and side swipes as drivers try to move their vehicles around other cars.
Clearwater Avenue is one of the most heavily traveled stretches of road in Kennewick, officials said.
The important part is to find a solution that the public, from business owners to drivers, can agree on, said John Deskins, the city's traffic engineer.
The city has asked consultants Transpo Group and MacKay Sposito to identify major issues along the corridor and possible solutions.
Already, Lisa Schauer, project facilitator with MacKay Sposito, has been walking along Clearwater Avenue to talk to businesses about what they would like to see -- and what they don't.
And the public is invited to an open house from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Kamiakin High School library.
Schauer said a number of people have already expressed concern about roundabouts and turning barriers. Some business owners have said that barriers that allow a turn lane to be used only for one direction, would end up preventing business access.
At the open house, the consultants will have maps displayed and will be looking for comments about areas where there are concerns about congestion and safety, Schauer said.
The city is hoping members of the public will submit tips and ideas about how to mitigate issues they have noticed on Clearwater, Durham said.
Deskins said the city hopes to look at options to improve some of Clearwater Avenue's many driveway entrances or to consolidate some of them. In some areas, driveways are too narrow for a car to enter the parking lot when there is one waiting to exit.
Another issue is drivers competing for the same place in a turn lane so they can access different businesses, he said.
Part of the project also may look at timing traffic signals at intersections, Durham said.
The goal is to make some immediate improvements once the study is complete, as well as having a plan in place for future improvements along the corridor, Deskins said. That plan will help when there is redevelopment or new development on Clearwater.
Deskins said the city wants part of the plan to address how to avoid creating new problems as vacant lots are developed on Clearwater Avenue between Columbia Center Boulevard and Leslie Road.
For more information--To give input on Clearwater Avenue safety improvements, go to http://safeclearwateravenue.com/ or call the hotline, updated weekly, at 572-9518.
--You also can go to the project headquarters at 7601 W. Clearwater Ave., Suite 402, starting in mid-August, or call Lisa Schauer at 540-5481 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- To submit business news, go to bit.ly/bizformtch.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; email@example.com