Tonasket is a 'pedestrian zone'

TONASKET – The Tonasket City Council continued their discussion on the fact that the city is a pedestrian zone, meaning there is no jaywalking within town, during their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The discussion came about because two representatives for the Washington State Department of Transportation, George Stuart and David Kieninger, were present at the meeting to discuss the potentially dangerous crosswalk situation across Whitcomb Ave. from Second Street to North Valley Hospital as well as the extension of lower speed limits signs north and south of Tonasket.

“One possibility for the crosswalk is a push-button activated flashing beacon which has several options for installation,” Stuart said. “Hardwire is the most expensive while solar panels are roughly $20,000 because anytime work is done on a crosswalk, it has to be brought up to the Americans with Disabilities Act standards. We’re beginning to have doubts about flashing beacons. We put one in Omak and we’re beginning to see increases in accidents because pedestrians think the beacon will do all the work of keeping them safe.”

Stuart explained that placing orange flags on either side of the street is the least expensive and most effective way of taking care of the situation for now. He said the flags are being used all over the state, they are highly visible and people respond to them. This option, Stuart said, will have pedestrians taking more responsibility for their safety. He added that someone in the city will have to be responsible for making sure there are always flags on either side of the road.

In regards to the issue of extending the distance the lower speed limits signs are placed from city limits, Stuart said a study must be done with radar to determine where people are slowing down and also the DOT would need to study the accident history of the areas to determine if it’s necessary to extend the lower speed limit areas.

“We have to set speed limits at a point where the most drivers are going to see them and not think they’re excessive,” Stuart said. “It’s the only way we’ll get compliance.”

City Clerk Alice Attwood told the council that several companies have submitted estimates to her regarding the requirements for building a new pool. The request for submittals was part of a fishing process to see how much it would cost the city to build a new pool and this topic will be discussed at the next meeting, on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. in city hall.