Working to make the Key Peninsula and state Route 302 safer, several area residents have partnered with state Rep. Jesse Young to bring safety concerns and improvements to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The safety improvements are centered largely around improving pedestrian safety at crosswalks, particularly the crosswalk at 97th Avenue where teenager Chad Stark was struck by a driver on Christmas Eve 2015.
Jerry Lampert, a Key Peninsula resident petitioning for safety improvements, is spurred on by his memories of driving past the Christmas Eve incident last year.
I looked around and it was so dark. No lights, no paint. What a tragedy. I said, ‘There’s got to be something we can do.’
“I looked around and it was so dark. No lights, no paint,” Lampert said. “What a tragedy. I said, ‘There’s got to be something we can do.’”
Lampert, a Key Peninsula resident since 2004, has been working with Chuck West, president of the Key Peninsula Council, and has enlisted the help of Young to bring concerns to WSDOT.
Young was happy to join forces and build partnerships with WSDOT staff to help bring more improvements and attention to the area.
“I found a desire to get more focus put out here,” Young said. “The people of this district for years have been paying way more than they’ve been getting back.”
Sitting down with WSDOT staff, Young discussed budgetary constraints and timelines with the staff, offering support and a partnership to better provide resources for the department.
“I was glad they were willing to partner with that,” he said. “Why not be an advocate for them and serve my district better by helping (WSDOT), too?”
Responding to safety concerns, WSDOT made improvements to the crosswalk on SR-302 at 97th Avenue, said Steve Kim, Olympic Regional Traffic engineer.
Improvements include removing the existing pedestrian beacon, which flashed constantly and often faded into the background for regular drivers. Instead, WSDOT installed a solar-powered, pedestrian-activated push button that causes a bright light to indicate to drivers that the crosswalk is in use.
The crosswalk was also repainted to better highlight the area and improve safety, Kim said.
Safety improvements have also been made to the crosswalk on SR-302 at Goodrich Drive near the Purdy Spit, with repainting, a new sign and flashing beacon scheduled for installation next summer.
Safety data is still being collected along SR-302 to see how recent improvements have effected safety, Kim said.
I’m glad (WSDOT) were willing to work with us and we were able to get those signs updated. Everybody knows (SR-302) is a very dangerous, risky part of our highway system...people need to know that I’m out here working on keeping my promises even when we’re not in session.
Rep. Jesse Young
Young said that he was pleased with the partnership so far and hopeful about safety improvements for the future.
“I’m glad they were willing to work with us and we were able to get those signs updated,” he said. “Everybody knows (SR-302) is a very dangerous, risky part of our highway system ... people need to know that I’m out here working on keeping my promises even when (the state Legislature is) not in session.”
Lampert also remains hopeful that safety will improve for pedestrians and drivers along SR-302.
“I think we live (by) the most dangerous highway in Washington. And now we have young people trying to cross the crosswalk to get to the store,” he said. “I don’t want to see another young person — I don’t want to see an old person — I don’t want to see anyone get hurt at that crosswalk.”
Security questions and concerns for WSDOT can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the WSDOT communication office at 360-357-2789.