Clallam County eyes Solmar intersection improvements

Five wrecks have been reported near the intersection of the 25 mph residential roads since 2009, the county engineer said.

CARLSBORG — The Clallam County Road Department will take a peek at improving the sight distance at the accident-prone intersection of McDonald and El Camino drives.

If the county cannot secure the needed right of way to remove view-restricting trees, the uncontrolled intersection in the Solmar development might become a four-way stop.

Five wrecks have been reported near the intersection of the 25 mph residential roads since 2009, County Engineer Ross Tyler told county commissioners Monday.

Solmar residents have made repeated requests for stop signs in their neighborhood, Tyler added.

“I believe that the issue here is that people are coming up McDonald Drive and wanting to roll the El Camino intersection there, and both people are rolling at the same time,” Tyler said in the commissioners work session.

“You end up having two cars in the same place at the same time. We haven’t figured out a way to do that without bending fenders yet.”

Before commissioners decide whether to regulate the intersection, Tyler suggested the county “put a little bit of effort into seeing if we can’t increase the sight distance there.”

“I think that would probably be the best solution,” Tyler said.

“I would certainly want to try that before I threw up four stop signs at this intersection.”

Board Chairman Mike Chapman directed Tyler to gather input from Solmar residents and make a recommendation to the board.

“Take as much time as you need, Ross, to make sure we reach out to the neighborhood and get all of the input we need,” Chapman said.

The McDonald-El Camino intersection does not meet stop sign criteria as identified by the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Tyler said.

According to the manual, stop signs should go on roads that serve 2,000 vehicles per day and have at least five crashes in three years.

The McDonald-El Camino intersection gets an average daily volume of about 800 vehicles and just missed the wreck volume benchmark, Tyler said.

Commissioners have the authority to install stop signs absent traffic control manual standards.

If the board decides to control the Solmar intersection, Tyler said he would recommend a four-way stop.

Tyler said a survey crew will first determine whether the trees restricting sight distance at the intersection belong to the county.

“Even if we don’t own the trees, I think that it would be worthwhile to approach the property owner and say, ‘Maybe we should buy your trees and replace them with something that’s shorter,’ ” Tyler said.

Tyler said a Puget Sound-area county was sued after it failed to cut back a blackberry bush that was on private property. The bush restricted sight distance and contributed to a fatal motorcycle-versus-vehicle crash, Tyler said.

“The agency lost the case,” Tyler said. “The judge goes: ‘I don’t care what you have to do, go deal with the vegetation.’ ”

“When we have sight distance issues that extend beyond our right-of-way limits, we need to look at going and acquiring additional right of way and trying to mitigate,” Tyler said.

Clallam County was sued years ago after it cut a tree that was on private property along Black Diamond Road, County Administrator Jim Jones recalled.

The case was settled out of court.

“We are trying to be really, really careful now,” Jones said.

“We’re trying to take the approach of working individually, one on one, with each property owner, even if we think it is our right of way ahead of time.

“This is something which is good customer service anyway,” Jones added.

“We don’t want to surprise people. So I would support what Ross is trying to do and work with the people out there.”


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@

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