The Olympia City Council unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday with the Olympia School District to share the cost on improvements at a crosswalk where two teenage pedestrians were hit.
New flashing beacons have been installed at the crosswalk at Henderson Boulevard and Carlyon Avenue in southeast Olympia. The crosswalk is used primarily by students at Pioneer Elementary, Washington Middle School and Olympia High School.
The beacons began operating Feb. 17. Other improvements at the crosswalk include new signs and pavement markings.
The agreement calls for the city and school district to split the $12,000 cost. The city conducted a study at the intersection in response to two separate collisions last fall —one in which a 16-year-old pedestrian was hit by a speeding truck, and another in which a 14-year-old bicyclist was hit by a car. Both survived, but the 16-year-old suffered injuries that included a broken leg.
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Randy Wesselman, the city’s transportation engineering and planning manager, told the council that Olympia police will continue to do emphasis patrols in that area. The speed limit for this school zone is posted at 20 mph.
"We still need people who are driving to be alert and watch for pedestrians," he said. "We need pedestrians to use good crossing behavior."
Councilwoman Jeannine Roe praised the partnership between the city and school district, and suggested that city staff install a blinking light on Carlyon Avenue to further calm traffic in an area teeming with families.
"It’s a huge improvement to the neighborhood," said Roe, who lives near Pioneer Elementary.
Also Tuesday, the council reviewed plans for the upcoming construction of a new water reservoir in southeast Olympia.
The reservoir is slated for a 5.3-acre parcel off Log Cabin Road. This spring, the city will begin site evaluations and design of the tank as well as public communication about the project. Construction is expected to begin in 2016 and cost about $11.9 million, according to the city.
When completed, the project will become the city’s 12th reservoir. City officials say the reservoir will provide much-needed storage as well as water pressure for serving customers and fighting fires.
"Reservoirs are much more than big water tanks," said Andy Haub, the city’s water resources director. "They are a key driver of our municipal water system."
Rich Hoey, public works director, said the project’s loan will be repaid through drinking water utility rates and new connection charges. He said water customers will see their rates go up about 7 percent over a three-year period, with the first installment of that council-approved increase — about 2 percent — taking effect this year.