The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Commissioners: Reduce SR 4 speed, but no roundabouts

 

September 7, 2017



While county officials agree they'd like to see lower speeds on SR 4 in the Cathlamet area, they don't want to use traffic circles to accomplish that end.

County Engineer Paul Lacy on Tuesday asked commissioners if they'd like to include in the county's Six Year Road Improvement Plan a proposal to install traffic circles, also called roundabouts, at SR 4 intersections with Main and Columbia streets and make modifications to the highway that would slow traffic.

Citing distaste for traffic circles, commissioners voted against the proposal.

However, they later voted to pursue other means of slowing traffic in the area.

Lacy had presented the proposal to the Cathlamet Town Council in August; council members were leary of the traffic circles, and they wanted to have a good idea of costs.

Lacy said the project would target federal funds requiring a $5 million minimum. Installing traffic circles, a median, and left turn lanes would hit that mark, and, he told the council, he felt he could find funding to cover the local grant matches.

The project would improve safety in the area, especially for bicycle riders and pedestrians trying to cross the highway.

Commissioner Dan Cothren acknowledged there are traffic and crossing issues in the area, but he didn't like the proposal.

"This must be my negative day," he said. "I think roundabouts are a big pain, a hazard. Things could happen with industrial traffic."

"I don't care for circles," said Commissioner Mike Backman.

Brady said he opposes any program that diverts funding for roads to funding for bicycles or pedestrians.

"It's challenging enough to keep our roads up," he said. "The town can slow down the speed limits and put in crosswalks.

"It also goes back to our financial situation. The state is not willing to correct the problem with counties, lifting the 1 percent levy lid.

"I can't see it right now."

Town Public Works Superintendent Duncan Cruickshank attended the workshop and commented that town officials really want to slow down the speeds on that stretch of highway.

However, state Department of Transportation engineers say drivers won't slow down without seeing a change in structure (there are three lanes in the area, with a passing lane for eastbound traffic).

Sheriff Mark Howie said he would like to see a 35 miles per hour speed limit, like Skamokawa's, in the area.

"I don't do much traffic patrol, but when I recently went out by the school road, within 10 minutes, I had a vehicle going 75 miles per hour," he said.

 

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