After months of consideration, a plan for improvements to NW Lincoln Street is finally moving forward.
Klickitat County Commissioner Don Struck attended a White Salmon City Council work session on the evening of June 17 and offered a multi-faceted proposal for alterations to be made.
Struck noted that most residents of the neighborhood do not want to see the peaceful nature of the road changed, but want solutions to safety issues.
"This is an attempt to come up with a short-term plan to accomplish this year and early next year, taking care of safety issues while preserving property rights and maintaining the integrity of the country lane," Struck said.
The issue reached a crescendo last December with a public meeting designed to air residents' concerns with traffic on Lincoln. Neighbors complained about speeding cars, narrowness of the road, inability to see oncoming traffic at corners, and safety for children living in the neighborhood.
Specifics of the county's plan are as follows:
Improve visibility on two blind corners by shaving down rock outcroppings and removing protruding boulders;
Design a corner that would give 400 feet of sight from Palos Verdes by cutting back a corner there by about 25 feet;
Create several paved turnouts so vehicles have the opportunity to safely get out of the way on narrow portions of the road;
Install three speed bumps at different locations west and east of the bottleneck areas;
Install new signs with the following directives: "Yield to Uphill Traffic"; "No Through Truck Traffic"; "No On-Street Parking."
"As a short-term fix, this provides pretty good bang for the buck," Struck said. "It maintains the country road and doesn't encourage extra traffic through there."
Jack Barrett, a resident of Lincoln Street who helped organize neighborhood efforts to improve safety for pedestrians and motorists on the street, said he liked the proposal from Struck.
"On behalf of all the people involved, I'd like to thank the White Salmon City Council and the county for how much time you've spent on this," Barrett said. "I'd like to express our appreciation."
"I think it's a real positive step and a good solution. I've been an advocate of speed bumps from Day One," said White Salmon Mayor Roger Holen.
White Salmon Public Works Director Wil Keyser endorsed Struck's concept.
"Since the last meeting [on May 21], Commissioner Struck has fashioned a proposal of options, and the other commissioners, staff, and mayor all bought into it," Keyser said.
"It sounds like a really good start," agreed City Council member Penny Morris.
Francis Gaddis also expressed support for the plan, and for the speed bumps in particular.
"Speed bumps do solve a lot of problems," Gaddis said.
Councilor Tim Stone said he was happy with the plans as well.
"I like the ideas," Stone said. "They were the ideas I had in mind from the beginning, and I'm glad to see it."
"It's a good start. If it doesn't work, we'll put together a new recommendation," Struck said.
Part of the street is within the unincorporated area of the county, while a portion is within the White Salmon city limits.
Keyser said he did not believe that the city needed to substantially upgrade its side of the boundary.
"There is nothing really needed at this point. Maybe improved signage," Keyser said.
Struck added that the 15 mph speed limit signs might be left up, even though state law says no limit below 25 mph can be legally enforced.
"It's not enforceable, but we do think it's a deterrent," Struck explained.
Some of the upgrades are planned for this year, while others may not be completed until next spring. The signs are expected to go up relatively soon, while the speed bumps may be put in later this summer. Work on the blind corners is planned for 2004.
"We'll get the signs in, remove brush, and fill potholes right away, then solicit bids for widening the corners," Struck said. "We'll have it all designed, engineered, and bid on by the fall. We'll try to make arrangements to get the speed bumps in this year, but it may get too late."
On June 18, the White Salmon City Council officially supported the county's plans for NW Lincoln.
"It's really a county proposal, but City Council concurrence is what the county is looking for," explained Mayor Holen.
The City Council voted 3-0 to support the county's proposed line of action.