Kennewick looking to cut down on collisions

KENNEWICK, Wash. - It's no secret that Clearwater Avenue is one of the busier roads in the Tri-Cities. But Kennewick is getting tired of the constant collisions there as well. You'll remember a wreck killed a pedestrian late last year. Kennewick is spending big money to make your commute safer.

It's been more than six months, but Steven Thompson still can't believe his neighbor of more than 25 years is gone.

"I miss seeing him, seeing him out there riding his bike or tooling around in his yard," said neighbor Steven Thompson.

That man across the street was David Ratliff. Late last year David was standing in a parking lot when he was struck and killed by an SUV in front WinCo.

"We said our good mornings, he went one way, I went on my way and when I heard he got killed, I was really surprised," said Thompson.

That accident was just one of the 356 wrecks on West Clearwater Avenue in the last three years. The city has seen enough. Kennewick received more than two-million dollars in grant money to fix this problem. One of the first steps is a study of the road from Highway 395 in the east to Leslie in the west. This will help identify the changes to be made.

"We want to make things better while still providing businesses to prosper, " said Kennewick safety engineer John Deskins.

Kennewick is looking at developing a blueprint that could see a change in existing driveways, re-alignment, intersection improvements and islands people can use to help cross the road more safely.

Steven says he's had his own near-misses.

"I avoid Clearwater like the plague," said Thompson.

He's hopeful for the project and that it will make things safer in the future. Even if it won't bring back his friend.

"I miss seeing him around," said Thompson.

Kennewick expects the study will be completed by the end of this year. Construction to make changes could begin sometime next year.