Critchfield/129 Tunnel

Russ Storey, Larry Hawes and I showed up at the Asotin County Commissioners meeting on Monay, Oct. 17th.

On the agenda was approval of the county 6 year transportration plan. Much of that plan dealt with matters such as widening, re-surfacing existing roads. The primary project is re-doing the intersection of Fleshman Way and Southway Bridge. Another plan was for resurfacing the bridge itself–a joint project with other metropolitan area entities.

We were there, though because of item 5 Crtichfield Road/SR 129 Pedestrian/Bike Underpass. Yes, a tunnel to the bike path. Joel Ristau, Publics Works Director, said that was the best solution but that others would be examined including public involvement. Rich Rogers of Asotin County called the tunnel too expensive and “ridiculous.” Rogers pointed out that injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists were largely the result of poor decisions by the victims. He used the word “stupid.”

Russ Storey identified himself as an insurance adjuster by profession with experience analyzing accident sites. He noted that as injuries increased at some point a mandate woudl require that the intersection be studied and fixed. He recommended that it be done right recognizing the heavy up front costs but avoiding long-term costs.

Larry Hawes, of the Seaport Striders, supported examination of the intersection and noted runners used it regularly. I added that I used it at least 2 or 3 times a week and that it was on a regular bike route used by area cyclists. I also noted that I’ve seen walkers with dogs trying to get to the bike path. “It’s a beautiful path but it is no good if you can’t get to it.”

Joel Ristau explained that signage and crosswalk markings are not necessarily effective in this situation and that WSDOT would have to approve them. He also noted that aligning the guardrail opening with Critchfield was difficult since that would mean an off-grade connection. Someone suggested an overpass but Ristau said that would cost about as much as the underpass.

Dr. Beggs, county commission, thanked us for our comments but noted that this one only one item in the entire plan and thought these comments would be better made in a community action group designed to bring egineering options to a stakeholder’s group for input.

Ristau said $40,000 was available from the Metropolitan area for the study.

I think we made a strong case for studying the intersection and doing more than placing a band-aid solution in place.

Valley runners and cyclists as well as trail users need to stay apprised of any annoucement of such a study beginning. I’ll put what I hear on the website. You can find a link to this article from the Advocacy Page.




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