Lewis and Clark streets in Pasco will become one-way thoroughfares when the planned Lewis Street railroad overpass comes to fruition, officials said at Monday's city council meeting.
The council discussed awarding contracts to make Lewis Street one-way heading east and Clark Street one-way heading west.
The western end of the four-lane bridge, which the city still doesn't have funding for, will be midway between Lewis and Clark streets, City Manager Gary Crutchfield said. The overpass will connect into each of the streets.
The council discussed a $28,000 contract with White Shield Inc. of Pasco to survey the area and a $110,521 contract with TranTech Engineering LLC of Bellevue to design the project. The city has $187,000 in federal funds to design the one-way couplet.
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The project is part of the city's downtown renewal efforts, which it has been working on with the Downtown Pasco Development Authority, according to information provided by the city. Changing the streets to one-way is expected to reduce traffic speed, while making bicycle and pedestrian use easier.
The city is going ahead with the design for the one-way streets project because it wants to be ready for when it does get money to build the $31 million Lewis Street overpass, Crutchfield said.
Construction is expected to start on the overpass "the day after we get the money," Crutchfield said.
Councilman Tom Larsen took a trip to Spokane and spoke with business owners who did not like the impact making streets one-way had on their downtown area, he said.
"If these streets are here, will they do away with problems, or will they create problems with businesses along both sides?" he asked.
Public works director Ahmad Qayoumi said the city and its consultant would have discussions with business owners to make sure there are no problems.
"This is not our typical streetway improvement," he said. "This is to help the community rebuild."
The one-way streets seem to work well in other cities, Mayor Pro-Tem Rebecca Francik said.
"Having driven in Spokane a lot and having been in Seattle this past weekend with my mother, one-way couplets seem to be the norm," she said.
In other business Monday, the council determined a Pasco School District plan to fence off access to some park areas the district shares with the city needs more discussion.
The changes are designed to prevent against incidents like last year's Newtown, Conn. school shooting. Existing fences will be enclosed and gates will be added to allow for easy access during non-school hours. But the public won't be allowed in to parts of the parks during the school day.
Some council members were upset by the plan, with Councilman Al Yenney concerned that it could even make access to the school more difficult for police and fire departments in case of emergency. The parks impacted are located near James McGee, Virgie Robinson and Maya Angelou elementaries.
Crutchfield said the city will try to make adjustments to the plan with school district officials, which will add a few weeks to the timetable to implement it.
The council also discussed replacing a recently retired unionized foreman in the public works department with a person in a newly created nonunion "assistant public works operations manager." If approved, the position will oversee water cross-connection and distribution, as well as equipment rental.
The new position will add about $4,000 to the budget, Crutchfield said.
"We'll have better management and oversight than we did before," he said. "It's hard to oversee all those positions and still be out in the field."
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; email@example.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom