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Washington Voices

Council delays traffic alterations until spring

The Millwood City Council decided to delay any action on traffic concerns regarding Fowler Road and Empire Avenue until spring during its meeting Monday night.

This decision came after a brief presentation made to the council by Matt Gillis, project manager for engineering firm Welch Comer and Associates. Gillis’ report focused on the findings of the firm’s October independent traffic study.

Waiting until spring came at Councilman Glenn Bailey’s suggestion, who thought warmer weather would allow more people to attend a public meeting. The council agreed with his suggestion.

“We’re going to be having a special open meeting this spring for the public to talk about these traffic issues,” Millwood Mayor Dan Mork said following the meeting. “And the council can get some ideas on how to address them.”

Initially, Welch Comer conducted an independent traffic study on Fowler and Empire in July. The study analyzed traffic data collected from Spokane County and Washington Department of Transportation last year. Gillis presented those findings in September.

The October study came at the council’s request for additional traffic numbers after a resident disputed the data.

Welch Comer’s latest study targeted 12 areas to gather additional traffic data, including Fowler, Empire, Butler, Grace, Frederick, Liberty, Euclid, Marguerite, Buckeye and Sargent roads.

The study recorded the average daily traffic volume, peak hourly volume and 85th percentile speed. The 85th percentile speed is the speed that separates the bottom 85 percent from the top 15 percent of vehicle speeds.

During Monday’s meeting, Gillis reported 11 of the 12 areas monitored show that most drivers exceeded the posted 25 mph speed limit. Empire, between Woodruff and Fowler, had average daily traffic of 891 vehicles with an average speed of 37 mph. Fowler’s average was 1,088 cars, with an average speed of 32 mph.

“Even with these 85 percent speeds, we still have a few areas we need to look at doing something for speed reduction,” Councilman Kevin Freeman said. “If we’re almost at 40 mph on Empire, we’ve got to look at something to try and get that speed down, same with Fowler.”

The council unanimously approved the amended budget, which allocated $5,000 for sidewalk improvements and $5,000 for period lighting.

The council also approved a critical areas ordinance in compliance with the Growth Management Act. The ordinance protects areas such as the aquifer recharge areas and fish and wildlife conservation areas.

Cleve McCoul, the city’s maintenance supervisor, reported water samples taken at City Hall were free from bacteria this past month. Last month a water sample taken at City Hall tested positive for coliform bacteria. Coliform bacteria could be an indicator of other harmful bacteria in the water, but additional testing revealed no other bacteria. He plans to continue chlorinating through December.