One of Pasco’s busiest intersections has seen an increase in daily traffic by 15,000 vehicles in the past five years.
Now, an average of 50,000 motorists pass through Road 68 and Burden Boulevard every day, and city officials know that number will only continue to grow with open land still to be developed.
Pasco Public Works Director Ahmad Qayoumi and his crew have been working hard to ease the congestion and reduce the number and severity of car crashes.
They have installed traffic barrier curbs down the middle of Road 68 between Burden and Sandifur Parkway, and upgraded traffic signals with pre-emption devices so ambulance and fire trucks will get a green light when responding to an emergency.
Those improvements, completed a year ago, have reduced the overall crash rate by nearly 30 percent and shaved off 48 seconds for emergency response times during rush hour when traveling from the Road 68 fire station to Sandifur, Qayoumi said.
“The Road 68 improvements have shown to help make drivers and residents safer, and we are working hard to implement other enhancements to the area,” he said.
The ongoing project is near and dear to Qayoumi’s heart because when he took the job five years ago, the Road 68 traffic problems were a main concern of the Pasco City Council, he said.
We’re not stopping there and we will continue to do more, but what we have done so far has been beneficial.
Ahmad Qayoumi, Pasco public works director
The city had a detailed study done of the corridor, from Sandifur south across Interstate 182 to West Argent Road, along with a portion of Burden between roads 68 and 60.
“One of the findings was that we had some safety issues, especially at the entrance to McDonald’s and all of those gas stations. The accident rate was four times over the state average,” Qayoumi said.
He was referring to the multiple driveways to those businesses at the Road 68 and Burden intersection and the two-way left turn that often led to conflicts with sudden lane changes.
The city knew it needed to address safety on the roadways, congestion and “future capacity as the area grows.”
Business owners were in favor of the median curbs, even if it meant there would be changes in access because motorists now can only turn right into a parking lot and right when leaving, he said. There are left-turn lanes, aside from controlled intersections, in a few locations in the middle of Road 68.
The city got almost $2 million in federal grants to make the improvements. This year, crews will work on synchronizing the traffic lights.
The next phase will involve adding a second lane for southbound traffic turning onto westbound 182, and making three right-turn lanes onto Road 68 for those exiting from westbound 182, Qayoumi said. It is expected to take a couple of years to implement.
“We’re not stopping there and we will continue to do more,” Qayoumi said, “but what we have done so far has been beneficial.”
The full Road 68 report is available on Pasco's website.