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Washington Voices

Millwood council discusses traffic issues

Engineer presents findings of two independent studies

Residents filled Millwood City Hall Monday night during a special public meeting to discuss traffic concerns on Butler Road, Empire Way and Fowler Road.

“We want to hear from the public as to what your ideas are,” Mayor Dan Mork said, addressing the audience.

The council took public comments and questions after a brief presentation by Matt Gillis, project manager from engineering firm Welch Comer and Associates. Gillis’ report focused on the findings of two independent traffic studies conducted and presented to council last year.

Last September, Gillis presented data from a July 2009 Spokane County and Washington State Department of Transportation study.

At council’s request, Welch conducted an additional study in October. Welch targeted 12 areas in the city and 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 of vehicle speeds from the top 15 percent of vehicle speeds.”

Welch’s October study showed a significant number of drivers exceeding the posted 25 mph speed limit in 11 of the 12 areas monitored. Empire Avenue between Argonne Road and North Boeing Road, the ADT rate was 891 vehicles with an average speed of 37 mph. Fowler Road’s ADT was 1,088 vehicles with an average speed of 32 mph.

After his presentation, Gillis recommended the council first seek inexpensive solutions such as purchasing a portable speed sign before seeking a permanent solution. The portable speed sign, costing $5,000 to $10,000, acquires data such as speed, volume and time of day.

“We have money set aside in our budget to purchase one this year,” Mork said.

Residents asked questions and suggested solutions such as additional law enforcement, implementing a local municipal court system or creating a right-turn lane from Trent Avenue.

“I don’t think we should rule out something physical to slow down traffic,” said Bobbie Beese, owner of Corner Door Fountain and Books, 3301 N. Argonne Road. “If we were to get one of these portable signs with data stream then we have an ongoing study. We could then at a later point say it would make sense to put something to slow people down.”

“I personally think law enforcement,” said Jim Youngman, a Millwood resident since 1981. “You put a cop out there with radar gun giving more tickets. Hits them in their pocket book.”

Resident Jim Kline suggested implementing cameras as a deterrent, referencing a system he believes the Washington State Patrol uses.

“The way they would do it is you would see a big white van sitting out on the freeway, they would click the picture,” Kline said. “There would be no dispute who is driving the car.”

City Attorney Brian Werst questioned the legality of using cameras for enforcement but said the city could use it as a warning system.

The council decided to pursue hiring extra patrol deputies to target key areas in the city. They also agreed to get bids on purchasing a portable speed sign.

Mork said hiring extra law patrols costs the city $60 per hour and he would present budget numbers next month. According to Cleve McCoul, Millwood’s maintenance supervisor, the city does not receive funding from tickets issued by deputies.

“I think the meeting went well tonight because we had good participation from the public,” Mork said. “I think the council is taking a good approach as to looking at this from both enforcement and collect some more data as we can.”

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