The Monroe City Council learned last week that sometimes the term "pork chopGÇ¥ refers not to a cut of meat, but rather a traffic revision being installed at the intersection of Blueberry Lane and Kelsey Street.

Historically, the intersection at Blueberry and Kelsey has been a source of frustration for Monroe residents traveling east on Blueberry, who find themselves trapped during high-traffic times due to the number of vehicles turning left onto Kelsey. The railroad crossing directly to the north further complicates the situation. Simultaneous train crossings, referred to by residents as "double trains,GÇ¥ are even more problematic, leading to extensive congestion in the area.

Council held discussion on the matter during the council meeting on Tuesday, July 12. The city's proposed solution is to add a raised island known as a "butterfly pork chopGÇ¥ to the roadway that will prevent cars from turning left onto Kelsey from Blueberry.

"That would basically eliminate the backup because people wouldn't have to wait in line to make a left turn,GÇ¥ said Monroe Public Works Director Brad Feilberg.

The proposal includes additional "C-curbingGÇ¥ to be installed down the center of Kelsey Street in the vicinity of the pork chop that will restrict a northbound driver's ability to drive into the southbound lane in order to bypass traffic.

According to city staff, northbound drivers attempting to reach the left-hand turn lane at Kelsey and U.S. 2 have been known to drive in the southbound lane, which is dangerous and has a negative impact on public safety.

Feilberg estimates the solution will cost between $5,000-$6,000, and can hopefully be installed before school starts in September.

Mayor Geoffrey Thomas cautioned council about implementing a permanent solution to address an issue that only exists during certain times of the day.

"My thought here is if we're doing all this work for just a two-hour window of time Monday through Friday in the afternoon, is there another way to approach it so that people can still turn left there when it's completely safe?GÇ¥ Thomas asked.-á

Councilmember Patsy Cudaback agreed with the mayor, calling traffic congestion in the area "hit or miss,GÇ¥ and questioned the need for a permanent left-turn prohibition.

"I'd love it just to be a two-hour window,GÇ¥ Cudaback said.

But Councilmembers Jason Gamble and Kevin Hanford felt like taking definitive action was the right way to move forward. Gamble said he felt doubtful residents would abide by mere signage indicating that there are no left-hand turns during a certain time period, adding the traffic congestion is actually more than just a couple hours in the afternoon.

"It is more than a two-hour window,GÇ¥ Gamble said. "It's unpredictable.GÇ¥

Hanford agreed.

"I'm in favor of starting with this,GÇ¥ Hanford said. "Let's try it and see what happens.GÇ¥

Hanford made a motion directing city staff to have a "butterfly pork chop medianGÇ¥ installed at the intersection of Blueberry Lane and Kelsey Street. Gamble seconded the motion, which passed 6-0. Councilmember Jim Kamp was absent.

Feilberg said that he planned to have discussion with the Monroe School District, the Monroe Fire Department and Community Transit to verify that the revision would not cause them any difficulties.

To provide feedback on the proposed traffic revision, contact the Monroe City Council at councilmembers@monroewa.gov.