Clinton walkers to get a safer crosswalk

Bob Effertz stands on the east side of Deer Lake Road’s crosswalk Friday afternoon to demonstrate how difficult it is to cross the road after the ferry arrives at Clinton.  - Stephen Mercer
Bob Effertz stands on the east side of Deer Lake Road’s crosswalk Friday afternoon to demonstrate how difficult it is to cross the road after the ferry arrives at Clinton.
— image credit: Stephen Mercer

Changes are underway that should make crossing Highway 525 in Clinton safer.

Dustin Terpening, a public relations officer for the Department of Transportation, said last week the DOT has budgeted $50,000 for upgrades to Clinton’s streets. The majority of the changes will happen at the Deer Lake Road crosswalk, where the DOT will repaint the crosswalk stripes, expand the crosswalk, add raised stripes to help guide the visually impaired, and install a new flashing crosswalk beacon.

In addition, Terpening said, larger speed limit signs, warning flags and more street lights are budgeted.

“We’re doing as much as we can with $50,000,” he said.

Work began in October and should finish in the upcoming months.

The notification of the changes was good news to Clinton resident Bob Effertz. He said controlling traffic has been a goal of the community since a visioning meeting on the subject six years ago.

“We didn’t want traffic to be the thing that defined Clinton,” he said.

Effertz serves as the president of the Clinton Forum, a non-partisan group which debates Clinton issues. Following six years of non action by the DOT, Effertz said the fact that some community members continually pushed for the changes shows that citizens’ voices do matter.

“This encourages us to keep working as a community together even though it might take away to get something accomplished,” he said.

Sarah Carter and Stephanie Streither— two Clinton Wells Fargo bank employees who frequently either use the Deer Lake Road crosswalk or see other use it— also support the upgrades.

The crosswalk is very dangerous, Streither said on a recent day as she considered the crossing. She noted that the crosswalk is in the middle of a blind corner just up the hill from the Clinton ferry dock. When a ferry pulls into the dock, over 130 cars drive the through the middle of town and through the crosswalk.

“It’s not very accommodating of local traffic,” she said.

Carter said elderly people walking to the bank must use the crosswalk. She said she has watched several times as some of these bank customers have nearly been hit by vehicles.

Both lifelong South Whidbey residents, the two women agreed that traffic has only been getting worse over the last couple of years.

The improvements to the crosswalk began with the removal of the Deer Lake Road Island Transit bus stop, expansion of the sidewalk and installation of the raised rectangle-shaped yellow stripes.

The larger speed limit signs and orange flags have been put in, as well.

Upcoming changes to the crosswalk include installing a brighter light on the east side of the Deer Lake Road crosswalk near Ace Leather Goods, repainting the fading crosswalk stripes, and a new street light close to the Island Transit Park and Ride just off the highway and Deer Lake Road. Mark Voth, a DOT engineer said the DOT also plans to add a street light on Humphrey Road in the upcoming months to aid people walking from the ferry to their vehicles.

Voth said the Washington State Patrol will have more of a presence in the area to enforce the crosswalk and speeding rules as well. The state patrol did not return a call for comment on the changes.

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