Pullman and Washington State University are putting pressure on the state to make State Route 26 safer ahead of schedule.
During a joint meeting Wednesday between the Pullman City Council and the Associated Students of WSU at the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center in Pullman, Mayor Glenn Johnson said he sent a letter to the chair of the Washington Senate Transportation Committee asking for construction on four additional SR 26 passing lanes to begin sooner than scheduled. That letter received the support of other cities along the highway, the ASWSU and WSU alumni. The two-lane SR 26 is a primary route for students and community members coming to and leaving Pullman.
The current target year for the passing lanes to be completed is 2025, but Johnson said state Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, told him the state could begin construction as early as 2020. Johnson said Schoesler encouraged “Coug Nation” to continue staying in contact with the Legislature and Washington Department of Transportation to pressure the state into starting construction early.
Kelly Marshall, deputy director of legislative affairs for ASWSU, said a group of students who visited legislators in Olympia also talked to them about speeding up SR 26 construction and other topics relevant to the university such as mental health, Title IX and funding for the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health.
City Councilwoman Eileen Macoll, who is part of the Whitman County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, said the city is also keeping its eye on legislation affecting recycling, including bans on plastic bags and straws. She said WSU is “ahead of the curve” for banning single-use plastics on campus.
Technology was another topic of discussion at the joint meeting. City Administrator Adam Lincoln said the city is planning on overhauling its website to make it more modern and user-friendly. He said staff is looking at creating an app in which residents will be able to report issues, such as potholes in a road, to the city.
Jacob Lizarraga, an ASWSU senator, encouraged the city to create a comprehensive app residents can download to see traffic delays, directions, a live stream of the Pullman Police Department’s social media feed and a way for people to pay parking fines online, among other features.
When it came to transit, Pullman Transit Manager Wayne Thompson told the students at the meeting the city added new routes at the beginning of the school year to cut down on interval times. Thompson said he would like to add more buses so the vehicles can complete their loop in as little as 30 minutes. He said the city next month will find out if it can receive grants to pay for two electric buses, which cost $775,000 each.
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