I have been reading and hearing concerns surrounding the proposed Rose Street project. I would like to weigh in both as a citizen and as co-chair of the Safe Travels Alliance.
Kathryn Southwick-Hess and I formed the Safe Travels Alliance in response to what we saw as unsafe school zones. Our evidence was both empirical (children were getting hurt) and anecdotal (we saw and heard literally hundreds of close-call stories). As we began to see results from our efforts, we discussed broadening those efforts to include city streets not in school zones.
We decided, based on our experiences working with city and county administration and staff, that we could trust the city and county to take care of traffic safety in those areas.
My direct experience with city of Walla Walla Public Works and Engineering is that it is thoughtful and strategic, constantly striving to meet current and future public safety needs. Instead of jumping in to solve an immediate problem, the city weighs options, does research and looks at each problem as part of the whole traffic pattern of the city. This trait has often been a bone of contention between a thoughtful agency and a mad mom, yelling, “Spike strips!” but I have come to appreciate it greatly.
The increased area for pedestrian and bicycle traffic keeps the vehicles separated from nonmotorized traffic, an objective that is not only common sense but has been proven over and over to reduce collisions. The three-lane configuration reduces speeds and increases visibility for both motorized and nonmotorized traffic. The removal of as few trees as possible is a testament to the city’s commitment to both improve public safety and preserve as many of our historic trees as possible.
The city has performed what I believe is more than due diligence. There have been several public meetings seeking input and explaining the plan. The city did extensive research and has data to back up every single aspect of this plan. The City Council made an informed and measured decision based on thorough and thoughtful explanation.
Please consider that the city of Walla Walla and the City Council are really between a rock and hard place. Their mandate from the public: Fix our roads. Balance our budget. I believe this plan serves both mandates equally well.