Ellensburg greenlights stoplights


Abigail Stowell

Once marked by stop signs, the crossing of Walnut and 18th now has a new stoplight.

RachelAnn Degnan, Senior Reporter

For residents in the apartments on North Walnut Street and East 18 Avenue, the drive home is beginning to look a bit different. The intersection that once was a four-way stop has been upgraded to having a stoplight.

Chloe Hopkins, a junior majoring in graphic design, currently lives in an apartment on Walnut Street and was caught off guard by the new upgrade.

“I had noticed some construction work going on at that intersection, but I had no idea they were replacing the stop signs with a light,” Hopkins said. “I didn’t think people normally drove down Walnut unless they are going to the apartments or the little store and restaurant on the corner.”

Even though the stoplight affects Hopkins’ day-to-day routine, she said she was interested in the impact the stoplight may have on traffic.

“I, honestly, am not bothered by it,” Hopkins said. “It may add a minute or two to my commute, but perhaps it will also keep pedestrians and drivers safe.”

According to the City of Ellensburg’s Civil Engineer Hunter Slyfield, the stoplight was not random and had been planned out for several months. 

“When there is new development in an area in the city limits of any kind, and obviously [CWU] has done a lot of development over the years, they are required to perform what’s called a traffic impact analysis,” Slyfield said. “That traffic impact analysis says, ‘okay we are going to see X amount of additional vehicle trips through all the adjacent intersections.’”

CWU’s recent remodeling and new construction projects required a traffic impact analysis, and it revealed a few traffic revisions were needed.

“We have what’s called a level of service standard that we are committed to, and it is basically a grading system for how long you have to wait at an intersection,” Slyfield said. “We are committed to a level C, which is minimum waits. Basically, the [traffic impact] analysis showed that those intersections with just four-way stop signs would fail our level of service, so we are required to signalize them, so they operate more efficiently.”

A transportation improvement plan released by the City estimates the cost of one light is $636,000.

“We have partnered with CWU, and we are basically funding one signal, and they are funding the other with traffic impact fees,” Slyfield said. “We began construction in July, and at that time, I take over as the project manager. As of right now, they are on final completion, and we anticipate them being started up and turned on next week.”

The lights are just the beginning of traffic revisions the City of Ellensburg has. To get more information, go to the Ellensburg City website and search for the transportation improvement plan.