omak city hall

OMAK – A transportation study is under way in the Omak area with an eye toward planning through 2040.

Jenn Saugen and Christina Wollman of Perteet, a consulting company hired by the state Department of Transportation to conduct the study, updated the city council March 4 on the plan’s progress.

One of the goals, said Wollman, is to improve non-motorized movement between East Side Park and the 12 Tribes Resort Casino and around East Omak Elementary School.

Saugen said they’ve been looking at traffic counts, growth, collisions and speed data, and also formed a “stakeholder” group of local residents to help learn about concerns. Organizations represented on the committee include the city, Okanogan County public works, Omak School District and board, Colville Confederated Tribes, Tollefson Construction, TranGO, Economic Alliance, Omak Chamber of Commerce and Okanogan County Farm Bureau.

Previous traffic plans also are being studied.

Computer models were run to look at congestion.

“Every intersection has different needs,” she said.

Intersections being scrutinized are Highway 97 and Sand Flat Road, Highway 97 and Shumway Road, Highway 97 and Engh Road, Highway 215 (Riverside Drive) and Quince Street, Highway 97 and Dayton Street, and Highway 97 and the casino entrance.

The study isn’t yet done, but some preliminary conclusions have been made:

-At Sand Flat Road, congestion is expected whenever the Omak School District builds a middle school on property it owns in the area, Suagen said. Additional signs or perhaps a roundabout would be needed.

-A signal or roundabout might be recommended at Shumway Road in the future, along with a way to route traffic into the downtown area.

-For Engh Road, a two-lane roundabout or different signal might be needed.

-Quince Street will need to be addressed, since it is so close to the Engh Road-Highway 97 intersection.

Council members also noted Omache Drive is even closer to the highway intersection.

-At the casino, pedestrian crossing, a signal or a roundabout might be needed.

-For bicyclists and walkers, trails and a pedestrian bridge over the Okanogan River might be called for.

-Planners also should look for ways to help trucks avoid going through downtown.

“This is all preliminary,” said Wollman.

An open house to talk about the planning process is planned April 25 at city hall, 2 N. Ash St. The time has not been announced.

Perteet also plans an online open house where people can leave comments on a website. That would become active before the April 25 meeting and continue afterward.

All printed materials will be in English and Spanish, Wollman said.

A draft report is expected by the end of May, with a final report coming by June 30.

Results of the plan could be used by the city or state to help secure funding, the women said.

Saugen said the city often applies for funding through the state Transportation Improvement Board and other agencies.

“If you’re in a plan, it helps you get points” toward qualifying for funding, she said.

Councilman Steve Clark said he’d like to see speed zone lights around the school.

He also asked whether the state plan would affect the city’s six-year street plan, which is updated every year under state law.

He was told the state plan doesn’t affect the city’s plan.

Councilwoman Nattalie Cariker suggested a flashing yellow light be added to the traffic light on Highway 97 at Dayton Street. She said late at night there might be red lights showing in all three directions, with no one at the intersection except someone wanting to turn left onto Dayton Street.

In other business, the council:

-Approved a resolution to resolve right of way issues on Jonathan Street.

-Agreed to sponsor the Okanogan County Housing Authority in its request to join the Association of Washington Cities employment benefit trust. The housing authority needed a member sponsor so it could take advantage of the association’s health care plan for its employees.

-Agreed to contract with Northwest Vital Records for records storage services. The older records will be kept at the company’s facility in Spokane.

-Accepted the airport runway narrowing contract as complete.

-Agreed to a memorandum of agreement with Wenatchee Valley College to allow the police department to investigate certain types of crimes, including sexual assault investigations, on campus.

-Entered an agreement with Gray and Osborne engineers, Yakima, for a waste load assessment to stay in compliance with the city’s wastewater permit.

-Heard a presentation from City Clerk Connie Thomas on a company she’d like to see the city use to host its website.

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