KENT, Wash. - The city of Kent is considering adding 61 new crosswalks, mostly in the downtown area, to accommodate new growth in areas where people have to cross busy streets.
But the plan also includes removing 47 existing crosswalks, so that the city has one uniform policy on how to determine where crosswalks are needed.
Lacey Jane Wolfe, a senior transportation planner for the city, said the policy wasn’t prompted so much by concerns about safety in particular locations, but rather to get a consistent approach.
Wolfe showed KIRO 7 a Federal Highway Administration guideline on where crosswalks should be placed. In many situations where a street has four or more lanes, or has vehicles traveling more than 40 miles per hour, the FHA does not recommend having a crosswalk alone, without any additional flashing lights.
“In locations where there’s a lot of traffic, vehicles traveling at high speeds, or lots of lanes, in some cases it might make it less safe to have a marked crosswalks there,” Wolfe said.
Carrie Farr lives next to one of the 47 crosswalks that may be removed. Farr said she’s glad it will be gone, because the existing stripes have faded, causing confusion for drivers.
“We sit here and watch accidents, and people cause almost-accidents, because the crosswalk isn’t striped completely across the street – so people think that’s directing traffic lanes,” Farr said.
Farr said that her children walk to middle school using a crosswalk one street away.
“They can’t ever cross the street right here by the house, because people will not stop,” she said.
For the locations that will be getting new striped crosswalks, drivers are already supposed to stop for pedestrians. But many drivers are not aware of the state law, which considers a crosswalk to be any intersection of two streets, regardless of markings on the ground.
A city of Kent committee has approved the plan. There will be public hearings before the full council votes.
If passed, the project will cost several hundred thousand dollars and will be completed in about one year.
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