25 mph is the new 40 on West Valley Highway through Pacific

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 NEWS

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

KING5.com

Posted on December 17, 2013 at 8:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 17 at 8:40 PM

PACIFIC, Wash. -- Hit a certain stretch of the West Valley Highway it quickly becomes clear-- it is no smooth ride.

There's no doubt the pot-holed patchwork quilt of a road between 56th Place South and Jovita Boulevard in Pacific needs serious work. The solution? The Pacific City Council voted not to fix the road, just slow drivers down-- waaay down.

"25 miles per hour when you're used to going 50? It's a big change," said Sean Mahaffey. He's been driving this road to work for 15 years.

Safety was a big consideration, but city leaders say quite simply, the amount of wear and tear is too costly to repair. Pacific doesn't have the money. So the idea is that the slower people go, the easier it is on the road.

Some see it as a way for the city to raise revenues: write speeding tickets to fund road repairs. But Public Works Director Ken Barnett says that is not the intent.

"This is about safety and about buying ourselves and the road, a little a more time so we can pursue grant funding for improvements and redesign," said Barnett.

Police have been told to allow a 30-day grace period before issuing tickets in reduced speed zone.

"I would imagine it's the heavy trucks doing the most damage and we do get a lot of truck traffic out here," surmised Mahaffey.

He's right. Big truck through-traffic is part of the problem. The council hopes a lower speed limit will push big rigs onto the parallel-running SR167.

Terri Curulla isn't buying it. Her salon, Shangri-La, sits right off the run-down stretch of road.

"How is that helping? How is putting it at 25mph helping when people aren't even moving that fast when there is a lot of traffic?" she said.

Traffic is heavy on West Valley Highway through Pacific when traffic on SR 167 is even heavier. But city officials say lightening the load and slowing things down are likely only temporary.

 

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