Pacific to lower speed limit on deteriorated in West Valley Highway

The Pacific City Council voted 5-2 on Monday to lower the speed limit on West Valley Highway from 40 to 25 miles per hour.

The reduction, effective Wednesday, Dec. 18, covers the portion of the highway  through Pacific, from 56th Place South to 8th Street East.

“We found, based on information AHBL (civil engineering consultants) gave us, that we didn’t have to do a long traffic study to do this,” Councilman Clint Steiger said. “We’ve talked about it numerous times at City Council, so it’s not any secret to anybody this hazardous situation we have, especially by the recycling center.”

“The state Legislature passed a law that allows any jurisdiction to pass a law, without any engineering study, to reduce posted speed on any roadways down to no less than 20 miles per hour,” AHBL consultant Sean Comfort added.

Citing safety concerns, as well as the need to slow down the further deterioration of the well-patched and pothole-ridden arterial, the council breached protocol by pushing the ordinance straight from the Public Works Committee to the regular council meeting without discussing the issue in a workshop.

“Our concern with the committee was just being that it is winter. It’s darker earlier, and the road is in bad shape,” Comfort said. “We have the potential of the road being in worse shape. I think perhaps that was where the urgency was to make the change.”

Councilmember James McMahan, who voted in favor of the ordinance, said the drop to 25 mph was a good fit for the road in light of the recent reduction to 25 made on the Algona portion of the road.

The City will notify drivers of the change with signs marked by two red ribbons at either end of the Pacific portion of the highway.

“There would be very visible notice at both ends of that roadway with the new speed limit signs, which would be the only expense to the City,” Comfort said.

Officials are looking into ways to secure funding to repair the worn highway.

Ken Barnett, City building and code official, added that the reduced speed limit would likely deter truckers who drive the State Route 167 corridor from using West Valley Highway as an alternative once construction of the HOT Lane extension begins in the summer of 2015.

“It will cut down on through-truck traffic because most truckers are not going to want to drop down to 25, even when the traffic is moving slow on 167,” Barnett said.

Councilmembers Vic Kave and Steiger were the only no votes on the ordinance.

ALSO: The City Council unanimously voted to approve a resolution allowing the Pacific Police Department to purchase replacement handguns for officers.

According to Public Safety Director and Chief John Calkins, the department’s Glock .40 ACP sidearms are almost 20 years old and in need of repair.

Calkins told the council that at a recent firearm qualification two of the department’s guns misfired as a result of worn-out parts.

The council approved the purchase of 13 Sig Sauer .45 ACP weapons from Bulls Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma for $10,659.82.


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