Do you have questions about the Rose Street project?


A 2011 survey of citizens made it clear — improving Rose Street should be the city of Walla Walla’s top road priority. And that is what is being done.

As we began planning this project, we asked how this street would best serve the community — both today and in years to come — and concluded the addition of a new stoplight at 13th Avenue (near the railroad crossing) and the resurfacing of Rose Street with a more durable surface were essential.

When we learned that accidents on the street were 50 percent higher than the state average for equivalent roads, we also felt it imperative to look at whether the lane configurations were impacting safety.

Following are answers to some of the most common questions about this project.

Why three lanes instead of four?

Safety is the prime reason.

By reconfiguring the road from four lanes to three, Walla Walla would have a newly surfaced road — and one that is safer and provides easier access to businesses. Based on national studies of similar roads, we could experience more than a 50 percent reduction in collisions on Rose Street.

This could also prevent investing in traffic revisions due to future traffic increases — if, for example, the mall site were to be redeveloped.

A three-year accident study (2009-2011) shows 48 accidents on Rose Street. This is roughly 50 percent higher than the statewide average for similar roadways.

Many of these accidents are rear-end collisions and sideswipes that are typically reduced by changing to three-lanes.

The most recent example was on April 9, when a Walla Walla Police Department motorcycle officer was struck by a car entering Rose Street from 12th Avenue.

Three-lane configurations improve visibility at intersections. Conflict points — places where vehicles can cross each other’s paths — are reduced by nearly 50 percent.

The dedicated center turn-lane helps reduce rear-end collisions. Numerous studies on this have been conducted for the past 40 years.

These indicate consistent reductions in overall accident rates for similar projects — from 10 percent to more than 60 percent.

Moving the travel lanes farther away from the curb increases comfort for pedestrians and reduces the chance of motorists hitting obstructions beyond the curbs.

Average speeds will be closer to the posted speed limits. Currently most Rose Street drivers travel 6 to 11 mph over the speed limit. Pedestrian crossing safety is improved by allowing pedestrians to focus their attention on fewer lanes.

Will three lanes accommodate the heavy traffic?

Yes, a three-lane road can handle more than twice the current traffic on Rose Street, up to 24,000 vehicles per day.

The current traffic volumes are about 10,000 vehicles per day.

Accounting for redevelopment of the mall and future growth, traffic volumes could be as high as 14,500 a day by the year 2033 — still well below the capacity of a three-lane roadway.

Past studies have shown that the difference in capacity between three- and four-lane roadways is minimal until traffic volumes reach 20,000 vehicles a day.

The wider section of Rose Street near the former mall site will still have more than three lanes.

Will the 50 large giant trees all be removed?

Absolutely not.

Only a few trees have to be removed. Residents along the north side of Rose Street have identified visibility concerns caused by some of the trees.

These concerns have been investigated and we found that sight distances do not meet established standards at most of the intersections. 

We want to preserve as many of the 50 large sycamore trees as possible and are looking at removing as few as two and up to a maximum of 10 trees. The final decision will be made based on improving visibility.

Will I have to wait behind Valley Transit buses?


The new configuration will allow for easy navigation around buses. With the six-foot bike lane (shoulder area) buses can pull far enough out of the way of traffic at their stops to allow drivers to use the center turn-lane to pass. This is legal and is done in many other cities without incident.

Most drivers will not need to drive around a stopped bus when traveling on this section of Rose. The frequency of the route through this corridor is every half-hour at most, and buses do not pull over at every stop — only those requested by users.

Bus pullout areas make it more difficult for buses to re-enter the traffic flow. Valley Transit officials have said they do not support bus pullouts because of this.

The one exception being considered is near the 13th Avenue intersection. A pullout area there might be included to better facilitate the movement of traffic while accommodating the railroad crossing, pedestrian crossings and the new traffic signal.

In coordination with Valley Transit, some other bus stop locations may be adjusted slightly to reduce conflicts.

Why are bike lanes being added to Rose Street?

Bike lanes are being added because a large shoulder area will remain after restriping.

Again, it is a safety concern. The shoulders will accommodate bus stops and make it easier for large trucks to make right turns at driveways and intersections without swerving into adjacent travel lanes as they do now.

And because there will be shoulder area left over it made sense to use it as a bike lane.

Upgrading Rose Street has been a citizen-driven priority. We have used data and careful analysis — combined with modern road design practices — to create a plan that will provide a cost-effective, more durable and easier-to-maintain surface that will improve safety and allow for efficient flow of traffic.

Our goal has been to weigh every aspect of the decision — from traffic flow and cost to maintenanc cost to safety — and recommend solutions that will best serve the community today and in the future.

As always, we welcome feedback from residents.

More information is available on the Internet at or by contacting the Rose Street project manager Monte Puymon at or (509) 527-4537



snosworthy says...

So the bicycle riders will only have to worry about the bus coming up behind them? That's not going to be much comfort!

Posted 27 April 2013, 7:39 p.m. Suggest removal

walla2butterfly says...

personally the way rose is set up now, I don't go near it on my bike or walking unless totally unavoidable. As for worrying about bus coming up behind, I would rather have them behind me then most other drivers

Posted 28 April 2013, 10:35 a.m. Suggest removal

sohcammer says...

I find it ironic that the picture used to illustrate the new design is the intersection at Rose/Jade/Cruthers which will be the site of head-on collisions due to the left turn conflict associated with Split Tee intersections. The city has created similar head-on collision hazards in shared left turn lanes between Hastings and Emma on 9th, between Birch and Poplar on 9th and between Main and Rose on 9th behind Taco Bell.

There have also been head-on collisions in front of Pizza Hut on Rose due to the confusion the shared center turn lane has created for people wanting to turn left onto Kenwood and people thinking they can turn left into the Mall entrance. How hard would it have been for the City to move that Mall entrance 20-30' to the east when they re-did all the sidewalks around the Myra intersection?? It's this lack of planning that has resulted in new accidents at this section of Rose and it will be created again at Jade/Cruthers.

**3 lane roads work great when we are talking about new construction with side streets that line up with each other. They even work well with Split Tee intersections that are offset to the left. But they create head-on collisions when they are offset to the right.**

Everyone knows that you can find statistical studies to support your design.
So the City is removing a rear-end collision hazard and replacing it with a head-on collision hazard??? When someone is rear-ended, it is a result of operator error. With the City's new design, when someone has a head-on in the left turn lane between Jade and Cruthers it will be the City that is liable for designing the hazard and not the motorists.

This article does nothing to address the fact that HazMat will continue to stop at the 13th street tracks even when a green light is present causing traffic to stop once again since it will be single lane there. City engineers have been quoting RCW's etc that say that HazMat does not have to stop because of the new design..blah,blah,blah. The fact is that they are required to stop at ALL rail crossings regardless of traffic signals because of Insurance Liability Requirements and Company Policy. They cannot be ticketed by law enforcement for stopping because the law requires them to carry insurance and all HazMat insurers require drivers to stop at ALL rail crossings. Once again, showing how much effort the City did to discuss the design changes with local business and HazMat transporters.

**For those of you who don't know what a Split Tee intersection is, go to page 6 on the link below and decide for yourself if you need a study to tell you there will be a head-on collision using a shared turn lane when the Split Tee is offset to the right. Jade and Cruthers are less than 50' apart.**



Posted 28 April 2013, 8:17 a.m. Suggest removal

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