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4th and Railroad Update

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Shelton, WA —City of Shelton staff continue to move forward with improvements at 4th and Railroad. The traffic signal has been disconnected, and stop signs have been installed on both sides of 4th. The intersection should now be treated the same as 3rd and Railroad, or 5th and Railroad.

City staff are committed to building trust and delivering excellent service. Sometimes it is easy to forget that not everyone attends City Commission meetings, can serve on volunteer committees, or reads all official City of Shelton bulletins. From conversations with people working near the intersection, it is clear that a lot of misinformation circulated over the past week. With that in mind, staff will ensure that personal interaction with business owners/residents is increased in future project communication plans.

Below are responses to frequently asked questions concerning 4th and Railroad:

Why does the City need to remove the current traffic signal at 4th and Railroad?

The traffic signal is 28 years old (May 1989), and City staff are concerned about the signal’s long-term functionality. In working with a traffic engineer, staff identified two solutions that remove the possibility of traffic signal failure: (1) flash the signal, or (2) remove the signal and install stop signs at 4th. Public feedback from the signal flashing that occurred last week indicated that the flashing yellow light was causing unnecessary confusion.

Was the public informed about the decision to remove the traffic signal?

The age of this signal has been a topic of discussion at City Commission meetings for several years. Alternative traffic control measures at this intersection and others were a large part of the Downtown Visioning process that kicked off in 2015 and included public forums, walking tours, and numerous surveys.

What is the cost of just replacing the traffic signal? Why doesn’t the City just buy a new traffic signal at 4th and Railroad?
The current estimate is $60,000, which is not budgeted for 2017. An additional $2,000-$3,000 per year would be needed for maintenance. Public Works staff do not advise replacing this light unless a traffic analysis shows distinct need based on traffic patterns at the intersection. A traffic analysis is ongoing, and will provide City Commissioners with the data needed to finally resolve the issue after years of discussion.

Why didn’t the City budget for a new traffic signal?

Over the last four years, staff have repeatedly requested that the signal be replaced. Through last year’s Downtown Visioning process, a solution to remove the traffic signal and install a mini-circle within the intersection was proposed as one possible alternative to be tested (see below). This aspect of the road diet was funded in the 2017 budget. Current City staff are hesitant to move forward with this design based on a number of concerns. Instead, City staff propose removing the traffic signal and installing stop signs on 4th. Should the Commission determine that a mini-circle at 4th and Railroad is the best option, it could still be installed.

What are rapid flashers, and why does the intersection need them?

Rapid flashers provide pedestrian assistance in a crosswalk by flashing a light to alert traffic. Rapid flashers can currently be found at 6th and Railroad, as well as between the Transit Center and Safeway. Rapid flashers have been suggested for the 4th and Railroad intersection, because pedestrian assistance across Railroad has been in place for years. The estimated cost for a set of rapid flashers at this intersection is $18,000. In the next few weeks, City Commissioners will hear the proposal, and determine if the rapid flashers should be installed.

Will rapid flashers require the removal of any street trees?
No trees are expected to be removed.

Will rapid flashers detract from the aesthetics of Railroad Avenue?
Rapid flashers may not be part of the long-term solution on Railroad. City staff expect to plan a large revitalization project for the Railroad Avenue corridor, at which time a different crosswalk option may be identified. Rapid flashers are solar powered, which allow for them to be moved to another location if needs change.

What was the point of the back-in angle parking?
Through the public discussion during the Visioning process, citizens and business owners expressed that downtown needed more parking. One of the Road Diet tests that the Visioning Committee implemented was back-in angle parking because it results in more parking stalls overall. Feedback gathered during the test has shown that this option is not desired by Shelton citizens. Reaching a conclusion was exactly what the road diet test was aimed to do, and staff will recommend changes that reflect public feedback.

What will be done to improve visibility when turning from 4th?
City staff are working on comprehensive proposal that improves the Road Diet test while addressing citizen concerns (see draft below). In the next few weeks, City Commissioners will hear the plan, which removes back-in angle parking between 3rd and 5th, and returns parallel parking on both sides. The proposal will also include moving the current parallel parking closer to the curb. This also allows room for turn lanes throughout Railroad from 1st to 7th.