Clearwater project moving forward

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Kennewick narrowed down the top spots on Clearwater Avenue that need to be safer, and work could begin before the end of the year.

Tim Cashman avoids driving on Clearwater Avenue at all costs.

"I stay away from it as much as I can, because I like to come down Canal, because it's less traffic, of course," said Cashman.

Clearwater is also a danger zone. Kennewick says there have been nearly a thousand collisions in the past six years - including one death. The city identified 13 spots that need fixing the most.

One of the highest priority areas for the city of Kennewick is the strip of road directly in front of the WinCo. Now the city says they plan to widen the road, creating a right turn lane only for WinCo shoppers. The city also plans to widen the road in front of the store, creating a bus turnout, so drivers won't have to slam on their brakes waiting for public transit.

"I feel safe, but I have to pay attention to what I'm doing: sudden stops, buses pulling in and out," said Cashman.

Many driveways along Clearwater Avenue are considered "full-access," meaning drivers can turn left or right onto Clearwater. But the city is trying to make you safer by giving you only one option: from Huntington Street to U.S. 395, installing a median, allowing you to only turn right.

That is a fix that will occur throughout the five and a half mile stretch of road from Highway 395 to Leslie Road, but one of the biggest changes will affect students.

The city plans to put a median at the intersection of North Arthur Street and Clearwater to allow school buses to make safer turns going and coming from school, as well as crosswalks and flashing lights to alert drivers.

"The more safe we can be, the better off life can be," said Cashman.

City staff point to Columbia Center Boulevard and Johnson Street as the other high-priority areas.
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