Monroe stop signs go back for safety

The Monroe City Council voted unanimously to reinstate the east-west stop signs at the intersection of South Blakeley and West Fremont streets last week, after receiving feedback from several area residents concerned about pedestrian and traffic safety.-á

Ken and Kim Olszewski reported a high volume of pedestrian traffic in the area and the lack of a marked crosswalk for safety to the council during public comment Tuesday, Oct. 13. The removal of the stop signs, they said, has made it even more dangerous.

"It's a pedestrian-active neighborhood at all times of day and into the night as well,GÇ¥ Ken said, adding visibility can be tricky for drivers on Fremont. "I don't think that east and west visibility from Fremont is adequate at this intersection.GÇ¥

The stop signs at South Blakeley and West Fremont were removed at the onset of the Main Street Plaza project in April, as a way to encourage vehicles to use Fremont to access State Route 203, rather than traveling through the construction zone. The removal of the signs was expected to streamline through traffic access and create a more pedestrian-friendly Main Street.

Resident Andrew Martin organizes the Blakeley Street Block Party every summer. He told council he understands the reason the signs were removed, but they need to be reinstalled now that the construction has been completed.-á

"On behalf of the residents of South Blakeley Street, please, please, please, pretty please, put our stop signs back up,GÇ¥ Martin said. "It's just dangerous.GÇ¥

Monroe Public Works Director Brad Feilberg told the council the traffic volumes through the intersection don't meet the threshold for a multi-way stop. Per Washington code, a number of criteria must exist in order to make a modification, including vehicular volume, collision history, 85th percentile speed and pedestrian volume.

The east-west stop signs were installed during the 1990s as requested by a previous city administrator, Feilberg said. Washington code states traffic devices should conform to uniform state guidelines "so far as is practicable.GÇ¥ The guidelines are contained in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

"Based on those guidelines, a four-way stop is not indicated at that intersection,GÇ¥ Feilberg said.-á -á

Councilmember Jason Gamble favored the idea of reinstalling the stop signs. Since the signs had been up since the 1990s and the intersection traffic study reflected a low rate of accidents, he felt having the signs in place actually worked.

"I fully would entertain putting it back in because that's what was there previously,GÇ¥ Gamble said.

Councilmember Patsy Cudaback agreed. She said traffic studies often seem a little backward, because rather than being preventative, they necessitate change only after a high rate of collisions has become a matter of record.

The signs were reinstalled by city staff later in the week.

Photo by Chris Hendrickson The Monroe City Council voted last week to add stop signs back at the South Blakeley and West Fremont intersection.


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