Motorists overwhelmingly want relief from congestion on U.S. Highway 395 through Colville, a new survey shows.
But they prefer a truck route through the industrial area on the west side of town over a bypass that would remove all highway traffic from the city.
Of 2,178 drivers surveyed late last month as they passed through town, 37.3 percent said they preferred a truck route, 28.7 percent wanted a complete bypass, 18.7 percent favored doing nothing, 12.9 percent called for widening the highway downtown and eliminating parking, and 2.3 percent had no opinion.
The survey was conducted by the city, the Tri-County Regional Transportation Organization and the state Transportation Department. Volunteers flagged down cars and asked drivers for their opinions.
Mayor Duane Scott was encouraged by the results. Although anything that removes traffic from downtown is anathema to many merchants, the city government supports a truck route.
“Some of the merchants are going into orbit on this,” Scott said.
Some merchants fear any loss of downtown traffic, but Scott believes failure to support a truck route could encourage a bypass that would remove all highway traffic.
That’s just one of several options currently under study, but Transportation Department spokesman Al Gilson said the department has no money for any of them.
He noted that a state Senate proposal to allocate $106 million for Highway 395 improvements died in committee earlier this year.
A traffic count in April showed the average daily traffic increasing 4.8 percent a year, Scott said. Truck traffic is increasing 30 percent a year.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.