Easing traffic woes around Kennewick

Easing traffic woes around Kennewick »Play Video
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- KEPR has learned of a plan to keep you moving along Kennewick's busiest roads.

The city is looking to overhaul the signals on dozens of traffic lights.

Carlita Bloodsworth is retired now but hasn't stopped moving. For her, getting errands done in Kennewick has become a hassle, especially when she travels on Clearwater Avenue to get to the mall.

She said, "It may alter what store I go to depending on where it's located."

To see just how bad traffic is, we did the drive for ourselves: setting an iPhone stopwatch first, and using a GoPro camera to record the drive.

We started at the corner of Clearwater and Highway 395. Traffic was decent until we got closer to the mall. We headed north on Columbia Center Boulevard where cars filled the roads until we got to Highway 240.

That one way took over 12 minutes. You have to remember we're driving in the middle of the day, on a holiday and only hit 4 red lights.

To see if the drive back was any better, we turned the car around and reset my timer. It seemed like even more cars were on the road. The traffic, a bit worse.

That total drive took over 17 minutes. The only difference is we hit two more red lights than we did on the way up.

That's nearly a half hour to drive just a few miles. It's why Kennewick hopes to reduce commute times on the busiest streets, like Clearwater and Columbia Center Boulevard.

The goal is to cut your travel time by up to a third. That could mean three to five minutes shorter for the trips we took.

They'll start by re-timing signal lights to match speed limits. Completing the Steptoe to Hildebrand loop will help keep cars off other thoroughfares.

The Mayor says it's building for the future.

"We don't want this to be an I-5 corridor. We don't want something that's at construction all the time. We want something that we can get fixed for 10, 15, 20 years down the road, so we don't have to keep re-doing this," said Steve Young.

Carlita is all for the changes.

She said, "It sounds nice to be able to drive through at even speeds and not be stopped at every single light."

Close to $500,000 in grant money will pay for the improvements.

Drivers will start seeing changes in a few months.