The Ocean Shores City Council voted unanimously at its Feb. 10 meeting to “explore the costs of putting down crosswalks” in the downtown retail and commercial strip portion of Pt. Brown Avenue NW, “asking the mayor to request that from Nick Bird, Ocean Shores director of public works.
Council member Bob Peterson initiated a 20-minute discussion that led to a 7-0 vote requesting the mayor seek information from Bird. Peterson acknowledged that he didn’t have a specific plan for the council to examine and act upon. Rather, he sought to gauge whether they would support taking a look at what would be involved in putting some crosswalks on the length of Pt. Brown between the city gates and the roundabout intersection with Chance a la Mer Boulevard, the only place on that stretch where crosswalks are presently found.
He said his question was simply, “How do we get it done and done right?”
City Attorney Brent Dille cautioned: “You’re not just going to go … grab some yellow paint … certainly. All that will have to be engineered and designed,” in part because some municipalities have been successfully sued over improperly done sidewalks, and “they’ve been unsafe. So, I don’t think it’s an overnight process.”
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration and adopted by the Washington Department of Transportation, is an 800-plus page guide includes a lot of information on crosswalks, but specifically states that it does not impose any requirements on where crosswalks should be located on non-highway roads in municipalities.
It does offer recommendations on crosswalk designs that include enhancements such as pedestrian- or sensor-activated flashing lights. And it addresses the increasing need for enhancements as the average daily traffic volume rises.
That may prove to be a tricky issue as the council considers the matter. The average daily traffic over a year is much less than the summer average, and several peak days greatly exceed the average, exacerbating the need for crosswalk enhancements designed to grab drivers’ attention and reduce the likelihood of pedestrian-vehicle accidents.
Ultimately, the council will have to decide how much it wants to spend to try to mitigate the situation of pedestrians crossing the city’s main retail strip, one that Mike Doolittle, a local business leader and owner of Playtime Family Fun Center on Pt. Brown, has described as “taking your life in your hands.”
The matter is not on the agenda for the next Council meeting, at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, at the Ocean Shores Convention Center.