Tacoma addresses pedestrian crosswalk concerns


by Heather Graf / KING 5 News


Posted on July 9, 2014 at 11:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 9 at 11:02 PM

Remember those hand-painted, vigilante crosswalks that showed up last year in Tacoma?  City leaders are hoping a $2.5 million plan for pedestrian crossing improvements might prevent that from happening again.

It was May of 2013 when a group of concerned citizens painted the rogue crosswalks across several intersections.

That caught the attention of city council, who in turn asked for an outreach effort, to get public feedback on which intersections in the city were most in need of crosswalk improvements.

"We asked them what was important to them, is the site near a park, is the site near a school," said project manager and engineer, Mark D'Andrea.  "I think we had six meetings, one in each council district and one in the downtown area."

From those meetings, the city identified 314 intersections where people would like to see improvements.  With a budget of $2.5 million for this round of work, D'Andrea says they knew they wouldn't be able to get to every crosswalk.

That's why they asked citizens to rank their top ten intersections in order of need.

"We have $300,000 to spend in each council district, plus an additional million for the downtown area," said D'Andrea.

The result is a list that was unveiled Wednesday night in East Tacoma.

"So the city of Tacoma has had challenges with funding roads for a long time. Am I surprised?  No.  Am I glad we're getting to it? Yes," said Catherine Ushka, who attended the meeting.

She says she was pleased to see intersections like Pacific Avenue and South 56th on the list for crosswalk improvements, but there were other areas in East Tacoma she believes are dangerous, that did not make the cut this time.

"Where the students cross, that's going to be a higher concern to me than a place where primarily adults cross," she said.

D'Andrea and Councilman Marty Campbell, who was also at the meeting, told KING 5 the city understands those concerns.

The goal is to eventually find funding for each of the 314 intersections on the list.

Construction on the first phase is set to begin this fall.