Change in store for Johnson Park traffic
July 11, 2019
By Rick Nelson
There is change ahead for the traffic pattern at Johnson Park.
Wahkiakum County Engineer Paul Lacy on Tuesday reported that the Washington State Department of Transportation has relocated the painted stop bar that guides vehicles leaving the campus and entering SR 4.
The long standing traffic flow pattern has been for vehicles entering the park campus to leave the highway and proceed to the left in a clockwise fashion and follow the circular route up the hill to the Johnson Park buildings. Vehicles leaving the campus descend the hill following the clockwise pattern.
Lacy, however, said the relocation of the stop bar suggests a reversal of the pattern would be wise, for vehicles leaving the campus would now be stopped in the way of vehicles wanting to go up the hill and enter the campus.
"The traffic coming off SR 4 has the right of way," Lacy said.
He suggested the board of county commissioners host a meeting at Johnson Park to present the proposal to the public and gather input before proceeding with any changes, and commissioners agreed, targeting an August 6 program date.
Commissioner Gene Strong said Lacy's idea had merit, for the road now used as an exit can be treacherous in icy conditions, with vehicles possibly unable to stop and sliding onto the highway.
Lacy commented that the current descending route is only slightly steeper than the current ascending route, but the Public Works Department has received complaints about the descending route.
"What would it take to make the road two-way," asked Commissioner Mike Backman.
Lacy replied that the roadways are very narrow, and widening would be expensive.
"But we can look at it," he said.
Lacy estimated the suggested changes would cost about $3,000 in paint and signs.
"My thought is to come back with two different proposals and we can go from there," Strong said.
In other business, commissioners authorized Lacy to apply for grant funds to add a bicycle/pedestrian lane along the Elochoman Valley Road from SR 4 to the county's Human Services complex.
The lane would improve safety in the area; Lacy said he had observed a woman pushing a baby carriage along the roadway with no shoulder to use in order to avoid vehicles.
The project estimated cost is $185,000; the grant would pay $160,000 and the county would be responsible for the balance. If the application is successful, design would likely take place in 2020 and construction in 2021, Lacy said.