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

Town, county work on speed limit proposal


Officials from Wahkiakum County and the Town of Cathlamet on Tuesday set the parameters for a request to lower the SR 4 speed limit to 35 miles per hour.

County commissioners will prepare a draft, and once town officials have reviewed and approved it, they'll send it to the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

The request is the latest step in the two entities' plan to slow traffic between the intersections at Boege and Elochoman Valley roads to address safety concerns.

The officials agreed they wanted to present a unified request to WSDOT, but when they started going over an initial draft from town Public Works Director Duncan Cruickshank, they found plenty to debate.

One suggestion that won't go forward is to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Main Street and SR 4.

"I would never support it," said Commissioner Dan Cothren. "I don't like them. Log truck drivers don't like them."

No matter, said county Public Works Director Paul Lacy. "It doesn't need to be a roundabout at that intersection to do the job," he said. "I can design the intersection to do what we want"

Lacy said he is already preparing funding applications for projects in the area, including adding a left turn lane for eastbound traffic at the Elochoman Valley Road intersection and left turn lanes at both Jacobson Road and Boege Road intersections. Crosswalks are included.

It might take three or four years to get the funding, he said.

Wahkiakum School District officials have requested left turn lanes and a cross walk at the school access road intersection.

The revisions would move the western end of the passing lanes from Main Street to a spot east of Boege Road. That would leave over a mile of passing lane, Lacy said. Also, left turns from Una Street to SR 4 would be prohibited. And because the Una Street and school access road intersections are inside the city limits, the town would have to come up with the funding for that work.

Mayor Dale Jacobson and commission Chair Mike Backman said they would jointly present the finished letter to state legislators to seek special funding for the projects.

WSDOT plans to lower the speed limit in the area to 45 mph and study how that affects traffic.

At the March town council meeting, a department engineer said the regional staff could lower the limit to 45 mph on their own, but to lower to 35 mph, a major traffic study would be necessary, and the department has neither staff nor funding for that work.

Local officials hope their input will preclude the need for the major traffic study.

And the officials fear their input may not have much impact on WSDOT and its funding priorities.

"In the end, they'll do what they want to do," Backman said.


Reader Comments

ScottRAB writes:

Since a recent study found a majority of truck drivers don’t understand how to drive a modern roundabout, it stands to reason most drivers don’t understand how a truck is supposed to drive a modern roundabout. Modern roundabouts are designed for trucks, large vehicles, and trailer towing vehicles by including the center flat area around the circle. It’s not a sidewalk, it’s called a truck apron, and it’s for trucks to begin a sharp right or end a left or U-turn on.

ScottRAB writes:

Roundabouts are safer for everyone. Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts. Roundabouts are one of nine proven road safety features (FHWA). The life saved may be your own.

ScottRAB writes:

People using the road make mistakes (like running stop signs and red lights), always have and always will. Crashes will always be with us, but they need not result in fatalities or serious injury. Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world - the intersection type with the lowest risk of fatal or serious injury crashes - (much more so than comparable signals).


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