11/14/2012 2:54:00 PM New radar sign erected in hopes of reducing collisions in Peshastin
Photo by Kacie Thrift
You can see this new WSDOT sign as you approach the bridge in Peshastin from the east. The sign displays your speed as you drive by. WSDOT officials hopes this causes motorists to slow down as they approach the intersection
The Main Street intersection to Peshastin on U.S. Highway 2 recently got a new radar sign suggesting drivers go 10 mph under the 50 mph speed limit in hopes of decreasing the collision rate at the intersection.
Jennene Ring, a traffic engineer for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for the North Central Region, said the area was identified as a Collision Analysis Corridor. Because of the collision rate, the WSDOT decided to look at the types of collisions.
"Some of them were associated with the signal but some were associated with the driveway approaching the section. We wanted to reduce speeder traffic going through there. There is a test project so we are going to see how it goes," Ring said.
The suggested speed limit and radar sign are only for westbound drivers. Ring said they didn't see the same problem for eastbound drivers.
It is a three leg signalized intersection that ties into the bridge over the Wenatchee River, providing the main connection into the city of Peshastin. The WSDOT examined the congestion of the intersection, which created an ongoing potential for rear end collisions, due to the blocked up traffic for those who were turning right. WSDOT started the project to extend the existing right turn, put in a new cantilever sign structure, and an electronic radar speed sign in hopes of slowing motorists.
Mike Andreini, the project engineer with WSDOT, said the new Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) radar speed sign will help the collision rate by making drivers realize how fast they are going and will encourage them to voluntarily slow down.
Ring said radar speed signs are better than a speed reduction sign because of how short the distance is for the suggested speed. She said WSDOT doesn't want to have the speed limit jumping up and down in short segments. Instead, they want consistent speed limits, and like big curves in the road, an advisory speed limit should help decrease accidents.
Andreini said the radar sign cost $4,500. This is a federally funded project. Sail Electric, Inc. out of Bellingham, won the bid for the project in July for $180,714, 20 percent over the engineering estimate. The total estimated cost for design and construction of all stages is approximately $201,000.
"The real basis for this project was to extend that right turn lane at the Peshastin intersection. There was a right turn lane there before but there was enough right turn traffic there it would spill out into the through lanes and block the through lanes. This project improves the intersection capacity," Andreini said.
The project was supposed to start on Sept. 17 but ended up starting a week later due to planning issues. Andreini said essentially the project was set to last five weeks but the entire project was put on hold for two weeks during the Wenatchee Complex Fire.
The delays have made the project last longer than expected, but Andreini said the project will be done soon. The time taken off from working on the project did not cost the state additional money but it may have cost the contractor extra.
"There is still a large sign to put up that will be east of Saunders Road. It's a directional sign that had Leavenworth, Seattle, and Saunders Road on it," Andreini said.
The benefits from the completion of this project will be the lengthened right turn lane providing more room for declaration outside of the through lane and travelers can see their speed and congestion information on signs in advance of the intersection.
The new ITS radar speed sign could potentially be a counter measure the WSDOT considers, Ring said. Chelan has put the signs in several locations to try and reduce drivers' speed in town.
"I can't think of any other radar speed signs in our area of responsibility, but nationally they have been shown to lower speeds typically four miles an hour," Ring said. "Even though the sign is suggesting going for 50 to 40 [mph] it might not bring it all the way down to 40 [mph] but it should bring the speeding down some."
Andreini said WSDOT for the North Central Region has a trailer mounted radar speed sign they use for construction projects and to sometimes monitor speed in areas to record speeds for a study, but other than that WSDOT for the North Central Region does not have speed radar signs anywhere else.
Kacie Thrift may be reached at 782-3781 or email@example.com.