By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
The Mill Creek City Council had a brief discussion at their September 12, 2017, meeting regarding the public safety issue with pedestrians crossing 132nd Street SE at locations where there are no crosswalks.
A number of accidents have occurred where pedestrians have been severely injured. The most recent was when a 16-year-old female sustained traumatic injuries on the evening of September 8th.
Councilmember Mike Todd began the discussion by asking City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto if there was anything that the city could do to put up more signs or barriers to keep people from crossing where there are no crosswalks.
Polizzotto said she was surprised when she observed how many people cross 132nd Street SE where there is no crosswalk. She went on to say she has directed Acting Public Works Director Kamal Mahmoud to work with the Washington State Department of Transportation on a traffic engineering fix.
Police Chief Elwin explained that 132nd Street SE is a Washington State Highway maintained by the Department of Transportation, but since it is a city street, Mill Creek is responsible for conducting the collision investigation of the September 8th accident.
He went on to say that when the Mill Creek Traffic Unit officers complete the collision report, it will be handed over to the Public Works Department for evaluation.
Elwin commented that pedestrians crossing the road where there are no crosswalks is clearly a problem, “It’s happened too many times in the short amount of time that I’ve been here… We have to address this issue. We have to work with our partners at the state and get this under control, because all we are seeing is more residences, more apartment complexes, more traffic and more people, so this problem will not get better, it will only get worse.”
While at the accident scene on Friday evening, September 8th, Elwin spoke to a number of eight to 15-year-old kids who told him they cross at that location “all the time.”
He thinks that it’s human nature for pedestrians to cross the road illegally rather than walk an extra five or ten minutes to get to the store or McDonalds. He said, “If you’re a kid you say, ‘I don’t want to walk all the way down there.’”
Elwin suggested that the 45-mile-per-hour speed limit should be reduced and more well-lighted crosswalks with activator buttons be installed “to slow the cars down.”
Councilmember Mark Bond was skeptical that reducing the speed limit would be effective. He said the solution was to install a pedestrian overpass, but that it would be too expensive and the state wouldn’t allow it.
Elwin said that he would stay actively involved in Mahmoud’s engineering analysis.