The speed limits on Kalama River Road and Old Pacific Highway North will remain as they are, at least until Spencer Creek Business Park is further developed, after residents spoke against a proposed lowering of the limit at Thursday’s Kalama City Council meeting.
The council voted unanimously to table lowering the speed limit to 25 mph from 35 mph on Kalama River Road and 40 mph on Old Pacific Highway until traffic at the Port of Kalama’s Spencer Creek Business Park warrants the change.
Street improvements are underway at Spencer Creek, including resurfacing roads, adding sidewalks, stormwater management and landscaping. Crews are also building a roundabout at the intersection of Old Pacific Highway and Kalama River Road and adding a turn lane on Kalama River Road. Major construction is expected to be complete by the end of August or early September, said Eric Yakovich, port economic development manager.
The speed limit through the roundabout will be 25 mph. According to a traffic study from the port’s Spencer Creek Master Plan, certain sections of the two roads should be 25 mph at peak “build out” of the park. However, city engineers commented at the time that the change is not warranted until further development and additional traffic.
Public Works Director Kelly Rasmussen said the speed change would affect the sections of the roads within the city limits. On Kalama River Road, the change would begin at the recycling center near the intersection with Norris Pit Road. On Old Pacific Highway, the change would begin after the curve in the road, just north of Kress Lake.
A handful of citizens commented that lowering the speed limit before the park is developed would burden residents.
“I don’t know why you would have to go so slow when there’s nothing around,” Kim Lowery said.
Responding to claims that the change would be a “revenue generator,” Police Chief Ralph Herrera said about 70% to 75% of the department’s traffic stops end in a verbal warning. The department uses traffic enforcement as a tool to educate, introduce officers to the public and act as a visible deterrent, he said.
Yakovich said no tenants are lined up for the park yet and no building construction is planned. The business park is a long-term project for the port, with a 20-year horizon, he said.
In other business, the council also decided not to waive the fee for a candidate meet-and-greet held at the Community Building on July 16. Marrene Jenkins, who paid $150 to rent the building, said the fee should be waived because the event was an educational event for citizens and was open to all candidates.
The Community Building rental policy states the city will allow the building to be used for an event held by a public or governmental entity that informs the community of issues that may affect the community. The council may waive the fee for events that directly benefit the building or city, according to the policy.
Because Jenkins is a private citizen, the council decided the event didn’t fit the criteria necessary to dismiss the fee. Candidates attending the meeting said they would split the bill and pay Jenkins back.
The council also awarded a $144,500 bid to Tapani, Inc. of Battle Ground to improve the stormwater system at Geranium and North First streets. The project includes upsizing small pipes to improve flow of water out of downtown, Rasmussen said.
The council heard a presentation from Darcy Hoffman of Workforce Southwest Washington, which provides investments and resources to improve skills and education of the workforce in Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. Hoffman provided an overview of the organization, and said the city can reach out to Workforce for resources and data.