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Council member calls for SR 141 safety study

White Salmon council member is concerned about traffic safety on state Route 141 between Bingen and White Salmon.

A member of the White Salmon City Council is concerned about traffic safety on State Route 141 between Bingen and White Salmon.

Councilor Rolando Mendez says he believes "the frequency and intensity of close call traffic incidents" on that stretch of road needs to be studied. Mendez is calling for the Washington Department of Transportation to conduct a formal study of the highway, from the Bingen city limits to Sixth Avenue in White Salmon, with a focus on speed limits.

"At least on a weekly basis, I am surprised with the high speed at which traffic approaches the 10th Avenue-SR 141 intersection from Bingen," Mendez wrote in a memorandum to the city. "The increased population in our community, the greater levels of tourist traffic, the presence of school bus stops, regular non-motorized traffic, and the hospital intersection indicated a public risk situation."

With the current speed limit in that area now at 35 mph, Mendez believes a reduction to 25 mph is needed.

However, according to White Salmon Public Works Director Wil Keyser, the WDOT completed this type of study more than two years ago, and concluded that the speed limits are reasonable as they now exist.

"The WDOT believes that the currently posted speed limit is adequate to the traffic/pedestrian conditions experienced for this section of SR 141," Keyser explained. "No traffic speed analysis is warranted or intended by WDOT."

Mendez said the WDOT needs to rethink its approach to speed limit questions.

"I am hopeful that it takes more than `body count' to reset a speed limit," Mendez said. "I would expect there is a provision that takes into account community growth as evidenced by construction permits."

The issue was scheduled to appear on the White Salmon City Council agenda for Aug. 15. Details on any action taken by the council will be reported in next week's edition of The Enterprise.


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