YAKIMA COUNTY, Washington – A new bill introduced by Representative Chris Corry would provide funding for counties to improve roads to prevent traffic accidents in rural communities like those in the lower Yakima Valley.
“As a rural lawmaker I have some of the most rural roads in Washington state here in the 14th and one of the things we have seen is that there are some really serious accidents there.” , Corry said.
Bill 1605 would establish a program to “reduce rural departures” using money from the state transport budget. Counties could apply for funding to be used to improve road safety in high-risk rural areas.
“The ability for us to be able to identify locally what needs to be fixed and to work with models to get there, rather than managing everything from Olympia, I think that would be very important for our county,” said Corry. .
Corry said the bill is based on recommendations made by the Washington Roads Safety Commission in its Target Zero plan, which aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on national roads by 2030.
The committee found that lane departure problems are one of the main causes of serious injuries on national roads, especially in rural areas. That’s why Corry said he wanted to make sure counties get the funding they need to reduce the risk of fatal accidents.
“We don’t have to build a whole new road,” Corry said. “You don’t have to build whole barricades or, you know, middle bulkheads. You can make mitigation efforts that will improve visibility and reduce those fatalities on the roads. “
Improvements could include repainting road lines for better visibility, adding signs, installing new lights or repairing road surface treatments. According to Washington Road Safety Plan 2022, Motor vehicle crashes have killed 168 people in Yakima County over the past five years.
Many of these deaths occurred on or near the Yakama Nation reservation, often at the intersection of Highway 97 with other roads. According to the commission, while Native Americans make up only 3.7% of the population of Yakima County, they account for 25% of all traffic accidents.
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