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DOT presents ideas for change at Four Corners

 


About a dozen people turned out to hear Washington State Department of Transportation engineers talk about Four Corners traffic last Tuesday night at Grand Coulee’s city council meeting.

One of these was Ray Wells, the man who started it all with a petition signed by nearly 1,200 local people.

“I thought they were pretty thorough,” Wells said later. “They offered up some suggestions, and I think they learned some new things about the intersection.”

Wells has taken it personally because he is one of the victims at the intersection of highways 174 and 155 in Grand Coulee, having been hit by a small pickup while riding his scooter across the intersection. He was thrown over the hood of the truck and was hospitalized.

That spurred his decision to do something about what he considers a dangerous intersection. So he went door to door, stopped people on the street, and put together a petition long enough to attract the attention of DOT officials.

“I explained to the DOT that sometimes in the afternoon when you look towards Electric City the sun almost blinds you,” Wells said. “I am still waiting to see where they are going with this.”

One of the ideas presented was a “roundabout,” a traffic control device that has become popular in the state, with some 284 put in since 2014. Dozens more are planned, according to material prepared for the Grand Coulee meeting.

Wells said that the DOT might put one in as an idea sometime this year on a “trial basis.”

But no final decisions were made Tuesday night.

Another option was a four-way stop with some lane adjustments.

DOT engineers Terry Berends and David Kieninger, from the North Central Traffic office in Wenatchee, pointed out that improvements made to the intersection in May 2011, have drastically cut down the number of accidents at Four Corners.

That’s when the DOT put in a left-side stop sign for SR-174, a flashing beacon on a stop-ahead sign westbound, and look-again signs under the stop signs. Engineers also moved the stop bar ahead.

Prior to that, from May 2007-May 2011, there had been 10 reported accidents at the corner routes. After those adjustments, from May 2011-March 2015, only two have been reported.

Still the DOT has indicated a willingness to look further into safety concerns at Four Corners and may come back to Grand Coulee for a future community meeting.

Any major changes would have to compete for funding on a priority basis in the DOT’s North Central District.

Kieninger said Tuesday that the DOT plans to come back in a couple of weeks or so for an open house-type of meeting. “The community made us aware of other issues in the area, including the parking at Safeway,” Kieninger said.

“While the roundabout might be the best solution and the safest at the intersection, we are not going to push it on the community. We are still seeking ideas,” he added.

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