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Pratt Parents, Neighbors Concerned Couplet May Increase Area Traffic

If people living near Pratt Elementary had their way, there would be no speeders and less traffic.

As Spokane County begins design work on the $18.7 million Valley Couplet, there’s concern among parents and neighborhood residents that more traffic might run past their elementary school.

Parents and neighbors say they’re worried that the already large number of speeders barreling down Coleman Road could increase with the Valley Couplet and be a risk to school children walking home or playing at the school.

They say they’d like to see Coleman Road closed off from the Valley Couplet and turned into a cul-de-sac at Second Avenue.

After meeting Thursday night with county officials, who came to Pratt to explain the Valley Couplet project, residents say they will push to see the school and neighborbood have fewer traffic worries.

“It’s very busy with fast traffic. I think closing Coleman is the only alternative,” said Wendie Kiorkas, who lives on Sixth Avenue and has two children who attend Pratt.

“The problem is that Coleman Road runs east on the property line of the elementary. We have 30 to 60 kids walk that road every day,” said Jackie Ash, a volunteer who oversees the school grounds.

In the past seven years, two children have been hit by cars.

In January, Sheriff’s Department volunteers in Edgecliff did their own traffic study. They found that 80 percent of cars stopping at Pratt were going above the 20 mph speed limit.

In July of 1994, the last time county engineers did a formal traffic count, the intersection at Coleman and Fourth had 1,550 vehicles per day.

County officials said they would consider closing off Coleman Road.

“Luckily we’re in the early planning stages,” said county spokesman Chad Hutson.

Construction of the Valley Couplet is not scheduled to begin until the year 2000. Right now, county right of way engineers are assessing property along First and Second avenues.

The Valley Couplet will run for 2 miles from Interstate 90’s Sprague Avenue interchange to University Road. Sprague Avenue will be a one-way street carrying westbound traffic. Eastbound traffic will run along a new four-lane street following First Avenue, then jogging south to follow Second Avenue.

Residents at Thursday’s meeting said they’re happy with the plan to build the Valley Couplet.

Kiorkas said she wants to keep her neighborhood peaceful while having better Valley transportation.

“I like the Couplet idea. You can’t get out onto Sprague from 3:30 p.m. on.”

, DataTimes