Hollingsworth Road curve shut down by Franklin County commissioners

Franklin County commissioners voted this week to shut down a road curve they said posed too much of a safety risk.

The curve on Hollingsworth Road, which allows drivers to bypass the intersection with Wahluke and Chestnut roads, is at the edge of a cornfield.

Commissioners said the corn can block a driver's view when coming around the turn.

Commission Chairman Rick Miller said the turn is popular among people transporting alfalfa and cattle along Hollingsworth Road, located northwest of Basin City.

"We do want to protect agriculture, but safety is our No. 1 priority," he said.

The vote came after an hourlong closed session discussion. The talk was closed because of concerns of potential legal action if the county had been forced to cut the corn down itself, Miller said.

The property owner, Norman "Butch" Curtis, had agreed to cut down the corn stalks to a level where a yellow curve sign, which advises a speed no higher than 45 mph, would be more visible.

But, ultimately, the corn still made navigating the turn too risky, Miller said.

"The road department said that's still not good enough," he said.

The county will place barricades at the entrances to the curve, Miller said. Drivers will now have to go another few hundred feet to the four-way intersection in order to make a left turn on Wahluke Road. The county might look at making upgrades to the intersection in the future.

The county could end up vacating the road, which would require public hearings, Miller said.

Curtis, when contacted by the Herald, declined comment until he could discuss the matter with the county.

In other business, commissioners opened bids for companies to work with the county on updating its Shoreline Master Program, a state-mandated set of guidelines local governments must create in order to regulate the use of their shorelines. The project is being funded through a $250,000 grant from the state Department of Ecology.

The four bidders were SCJ Alliance of Wenatchee, $226,000; AHBL Inc. of Tacoma, $225,000; the Watershed Company of Kirkland, $224,940; and Anchor QEA of Seattle, $189,995. Building and planning director Jerrod MacPherson said the county can choose the company with the best overall package, rather than the lowest bidder.

Commissioners also approved an interlocal agreement with the North Franklin School District where the school district will pay the county an estimated $31,648 to complete chip seal work on its property. County public works director Matt Mahoney said the work will involve installing 2 to 3 inches of crushed rock around the parking lot at the Field of Dreams stadium in Connell, as well as on a driveway connecting the junior high school to the agriculture building.

By working with the county instead of a private company, the school district will pay a third of what the project could have cost, Mahoney said

"It gets much-needed work done for them, and, certainly, it's now more affordable for them to complete," he said.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom