The city is planning a stormwater and crosswalk project along westbound Sprague Avenue between University Road and Herald Road, a three-block segment. As part of the project, the city piloted a reduction in the number of traffic lanes on Sprague Avenue (in this road segment only) from Sept. 19 through Oct. 21, 2022. The five existing lanes on Sprague were reduced to three.
The city collected public comment on the pilot project via an online survey through Nov. 4.
Preliminary traffic evaluations comparing three-lane and four-lane alternatives indicate that three-lanes will provide ample capacity during peak traffic hours and accommodate traffic volumes through 2040 based on traffic models. Additionally, the three-lane alternative provides more room for stormwater treatment and a shorter pedestrian crossing, resulting in three seconds of reduced exposure to vehicular traffic during the crossing as compared to the four-lane alternative. The pilot project is being conducted to verify these results and update them, if necessary.
Traffic control devices will be in place for approximately six weeks to observe driver behavior, measure actual vehicle speeds, and evaluate performance of the section with reduced lanes.
This project is expected to reduce excessive speeding on this segment of Sprague. Studies indicate this segment experiences high driving speeds and has relatively low traffic volumes. Over 60% of drivers were shown to exceed the posted speed limit with over 120 drivers exceeding 50 mph on a typical day. Volumes on this segment only utilize approximately 20 percent of existing capacity of the current lane configuration. As a result, vehicles travel at high speeds, leading to unsafe pedestrian conditions. Of all fatal and serious injury crashes in the city, the most prominent contributing factor is excessive speeds.
If adopted permanently, the proposed lane reduction would also allow for the placement of the following facilities:
University Road to Herald Road
Planning for the stormwater improvement project in this section of Sprague began in November 2014 when the city applied for a Washington State Department of Ecology grant to improve water quality along a two-mile segment of Sprague between University Road and Park Road. The project was selected for funding in July 2015, but funding was delayed.
Four years later, funding was secured in 2019 and the city signed an agreement with the state Ecology Department to begin design work on the stormwater project. While design got underway, the city also secured funding from STA and the Pedestrian and Bicycle program in 2021 to design and develop a crosswalk between City Hall and the new library building.
A design report completed in spring 2022 on the stormwater project indicated that the Ecology Department grant was not sufficient to support the entire project cost due to inflation and rising construction and labor costs. As a result, the city has reduced the section of Sprague that will receive stormwater improvements, and incorporated the crosswalk and bus stop into the existing project plans.
City Council Presentation - Aug. 30, 2022
News Release -Sept. 15, 2022
Pilot Project: Jerremy Clark
Traffic Engineering Manager
Stormwater Glenn Ritter
& Crosswalk Project: Senior Engineer
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