Monday, October 26, 2020
Oct. 26, 2020

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Highway 502 widening aims to improve safety

By , Columbian Business Reporter
Published:

Short of requiring self-driving cars, there’s only so much that can be done to make a road safer. But work on a 7-mile stretch of highway in north Clark County aims to get pretty close.

Beyond making room for a growing Battle Ground, the $84 million widening of state Highway 502 has big safety improvements in mind.

There have been 246 accidents on the highway since 2010, three of them fatal, according to Washington State Department of Transportation data. Concrete median barriers, which started going in earlier this fall, are one part of helping to stem that.

“Median barriers help improve safety a lot,” said Susan Fell, WSDOT’s project engineer. “That controls where people enter and exit the highway. The fewer number of accesses greatly reduces a lot of the movements you have that lead to accidents.”

Another upgrade for the road comes with three new traffic signals, at Northeast 29th, 50th and 92nd avenues. They’re necessary in part to help drivers make U-turns when medians prevent crossing. The signals will join what was the only stoplight on the highway, at Northeast 72nd Avenue.

“Prior to the project, we had a lot of fatalities with people running stop signs,” Fell said.

The most recent deadly crash on Highway 502 occurred late in November 2012 when Ryan Matison ran a stop sign on southbound 29th Avenue at a high speed. He struck another vehicle and killed his girlfriend, who was a passenger in his car. Matison was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced last year to nearly three years in prison.

Since widening work began in July 2012, accidents have generally tapered, though they spiked to 52 in 2013.

There have been 22 crashes so far this year.

Just one pedestrian was struck, though not seriously injured, during the widening project. A construction worker was hit by an allegedly drunk driver in April.

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