Schubert urges crosswalk near post office

Data is hard to come by but anyone who visits a post office regularly is familiar with the numerous near-collisions of vehicles with pedestrians as well as with other vehicles.

Sequim City Councilor Walt Schubert is one of those regular visitors and he told the council at its Sept. 8 meeting that the intersection of Sunnyside Avenue and Bell Street across from the post office needs a crosswalk.

"Somebody's going to get hurt out there," he said.

Interim city manager Bob Spinks said Friday the issue was referred to interim Public Works director Bill Bullock for analysis.

"It's on the 'to do' list," Spinks said.

After the meeting, Schubert said the danger to pedestrians in front of the post office is something he's noticed on his frequent visits there.

"I pick up the mail there two and sometimes three times a day and I notice people aren't going down the street to the crosswalk. They are just going to jaywalk," Schubert said.

"It's just a dangerous street. I've seen people in the middle of the street and drivers won't stop for them so they can get across safely," he said.

The state's requirements for crosswalks are contained in DOT's design manual, which is available online, said Keith Calais, signal and illumination engineer for the state Department of Transportation in Olympia.

They begin with an engineering study to identify how many pedestrians are crossing at the targeted location and that determines what happens next, he said.

Each city can modify DOT's standards but many just follow the state's, Calais said.

When locating new crosswalks, DOT generally lets cities decide how close to other traffic controls such as stoplights or other crosswalks is too close, he said.

DOT's standards include not locating a new crosswalk less than 300 feet from an existing one, providing adequate sight distance and having a pedestrian facility - such as a post office - in the vicinity, Calais said.

The agency's standards also include a traffic count of at least 20 pedestrians or 15 children or elderly persons an hour or 60 pedestrians in the highest four-hour consecutive period, he said.

"We don't like them in midblock because drivers don't expect them there. It's a big safety issue to have them at the intersection," Calais said.

"We'd look at the average daily traffic of vehicles and pedestrians and then decide," Calais said.

Other factors such as the number of lanes to be crossed would determine what type of crosswalk or other device such as a flashing light would be installed, he said.

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