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City officials lower speed limits around new Richland school

With a new middle school going up on the corner of Belmont boulevard and Keene road, West Richland officials are taking action to make the area around the new building safer.

WEST RICHLAND, Wash. -- With a new middle school going up on the corner of Belmont boulevard and Keene road, West Richland officials are taking action to make the area around the new building safer.

"It's crazy busy. Between the traffic, the people on bikes and the kids riding skateboards-it's all day long. It's always busy," said Melissa French, who lives off of Keene Road.

French walks with her grandson along Keene every day and says it’s hectic. But, it’s going to get busier.

The Richland School District is building a middle school at the intersection of Belmont and Keene- one that will draw more kids and cars.

"The 50 miles an hour that it is now is just not safe for as much people traffic, foot traffic as there is," said French.

Melissa said change is needed and the City of West Richland agrees.

"Our engineering staff went back and did an analysis and review and their determination is that it's time to reduce the speed in that section to improve the safety of those intersections," said Roscoe Slade of the West Richland Public Works Department.

Officials said those are intersections that public works, the school district and police department determined kids would most likely cross.

"We're not going to wait until we have a number of accidents at the intersections. We're going to be proactive," said Slade.

City council agreed Tuesday night to lower the speed limit from 50 to 45 from the roundabout to South Highlands Boulevard, 50 to 35 from South Highlands to Belmont and 50 to 45 from Belmont to Van Giesen.

Officials said you can expect to see these changes mid-June, along with extra police patrols.

"There will be enforcement out there to change bad behavior way before the schools open and the students are crossing there," said Slade.

Public works said this will give drivers enough time to adapt to the change and make the area safer.

"Improving the safety is more important than adding a few seconds to somebody's travel time down the corridor," added Slade.

Leona Libby Middle School is set to open this August.

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