The Monroe City Council will hold further discussion on the proposed left-hand turn prohibition at eastbound Blueberry Lane and Kelsey Street.
Monroe Planning Commissioner Steve Jensen spoke on the issue during the public comment period at the Monroe City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 19. Jensen said he was not speaking on the commission's behalf, but he questioned why a proposed traffic revision ' a raised island area at the intersection that would prevent drivers from turning left ' was not presented to the planning commission with an opportunity to provide a recommendation.
"It certainly maybe should have been something run by the planning commission, because I think it needs a lot of planning,GÇ¥ Jensen said.
The Blueberry Lane and Kelsey Street intersection was one of 43 studied during the city's recent Comprehensive Plan update. Although the intersection meets the city's standard for providing an acceptable level of service (LOS), its congestion earned it an independent notation in the plan.
"Despite the intersection meeting LOS standards, there have been complaints of a queue for drivers turning left onto Kelsey Street,GÇ¥ states the plan.

 
The city has long pondered a solution to the problem. Traffic lights cost $250,000 to $500,000, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation, but the intersection is likely too close to the railroad tracks to accommodate a light. And widening the stretch of Kelsey from Blueberry to U.S. 2 is cost prohibitive because it would necessitate a new railroad crossing, which is a minimum of $500,000, said city staff, plus the land acquisitions required to widen the road.
The need for a solution is pressing, as developer Jeff Burdett of Same Investments has submitted a site plan approval application with the city to build a 112-unit apartment complex on a 10.33-acre piece of property at 18727 Blueberry Lane.
Located north of Blueberry Lane and south of the railroad tracks, the property is zoned multi-family residential and designated in the Comprehensive Plan as multi-family.
The council passed a motion on Tuesday, July 12, directing city staff to proceed with the installation of a raised section of roadway, known as a "butterfly pork chop.GÇ¥ In addition to the pork chop, the proposal included additional "C-curbingGÇ¥ to be installed down the center of Kelsey Street, in the vicinity of the pork chop, that would restrict a northbound driver's ability to drive into the southbound lane in order to bypass traffic.
Jensen said he was concerned about what a left-hand turn prohibition would do to the overall flow of traffic in the area. He suggested an alternative plan, which he felt could be implemented with very little expense.
"It won't cost tens of thousands of dollars; it won't cost thousands of dollars. I suspect it'll cost about two or three hundred dollars,GÇ¥ Jensen said. "It's three signs that you have to add and a post.GÇ¥
First, Jensen said, a sign stating "traffic from the left does not stopGÇ¥ would need to be added to the stop sign at Blueberry and Kelsey, notifying drivers that the traffic traveling southbound on Kelsey from U.S. 2 doesn't stop. Next, the city would need to add a stop sign on Kelsey Street that would stop drivers traveling northbound on Kelsey, he said.
"There is none now,GÇ¥ Jensen said. "You add a stop sign with a notation that oncoming traffic does not stop, and in my opinion this will solve the problem.GÇ¥
He asked the council to readdress the issue.
Later in the meeting, Councilmember Jim Kamp requested further discussion on the matter. He was absent during the July 12 meeting, he said, and was interested in having another conversation about the proposed fix. He said he had concerns that a few of the side streets in the area would potentially end up with increased traffic as a result of the left-hand turn prohibition.
"I agree with the safety considerations we're working on here, but we need to spend a little bit more time discussing it,GÇ¥ Kamp said.
The item will be discussed during the July 26 council meeting, held at 7 p.m. at Monroe City Hall. For more information about the city and Jensen's proposal, visit http://wa-monroe.civicplus.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/4127?fileID=3982.