Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Less is not more


August 23, 2018 | View PDF

We are writing this letter to address our concerns with the notion of a roundabout or a “T” intersection being installed in Colfax. This idea of a roundabout, or “T,” will not only be a public relations nightmare for Colfax, but will result in the loss of traffic capacity for the vital shipping intersection Colfax is. To properly address this issue, we need to build for future capacity, not settle for what’s convenient. A single bridge with a “T” design will force eastbound 26 to southbound 195 (west side to WSU) to stop. Worse yet would be a roundabout with all traffic stopping! What a negative impact to the image of our town.

The planners at the Department of Transportation (DOT) will say that roundabouts are truck friendly – that trailers can drive over the curb. This is not true for wide loads on lowboy trailers. For safety reasons, we avoid moving any equipment through roundabouts. Whether we’re hauling equipment or driving.

Farm equipment is getting bigger, not smaller. We’re starting to see tractors pulling seeding equipment up to 112 feet long! There simply is not enough physical room for farm equipment like this to negotiate a roundabout! The DOT sees everything from a 16 foot high and 20 foot wide perspective, not realizing our specialized farming needs on the Palouse. Or the need for specialized equipment to travel through town. Could you imagine pieces of those wind mills by 195 being hauled through this proposed roundabout?

And the cost for this supposed “improved traffic flow?” The state’s proposal estimates the single bridge solution and removal of existing bridges will be 8.6 million. The DOT is pledging 2.6 million to the project. The estimate of fixing the bridges is 2.7 million. Arguing better traffic flow with a new bridge. This kind of spending would only make sense to a bureaucrat.

How does reducing the capacity of two bridges to one make sense? Eliminating half the capacity will impact this vital transportation hub. Our roads regularly see: loaded trucks hauling wheat to Central Ferry; flat beds hauling hay to Ellensburg; trucks and tractors pulling fertilizer/seeding equipment, combines and self-propelled sprayers; and semi-trucks pulling low-boy trailers loaded with farm equipment.

How will Cougar football traffic benefit from this proposed change? We feel this will only be more incentive to bypass Colfax altogether, as 195 bypasses other Whitman County towns. Just because we are the county seat does NOT ensure that the union of 195 and Highway 26 will occur within the city limits. We are the benefactors of 85-year-old engineering that had the foresight to plan for our future needs. The next design should increase capacity, handling the bigger, wider and heavier loads that are coming. It should not limit our city, creating confusion, congestion and the desire to pass our city by.

--Casey Jones for the crew of Jones Truck & Implement


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