$1.2-million to improve 29 of Yakima County's deadliest rural roads

$1.2-million to improve 29 of Yakima County's deadliest rural roads
YAKIMA, Wash. -- County commissioners decided Tuesday to move forward with a project to improve safety on 29 of the county's deadliest roads.

Rural roads in Yakima County are among the most dangerous in the state; engineers say there were 26 fatal accidents last year alone.

Flowers mark the spot where two people have died along North Track Road near Wapato. This stretch of road is one of the deadliest rural roads in the entire county.

Theresa Contreras and her family live in a house off of the road and have seen plenty of speeders and crashes.

"I was coming off of work; down there I think it was. There was a kid I was helping cause he ended up losing control and his car was rolled over," said Contreras.

Contreras put up her own sign to get people to slow down turning into the neighborhood but says it hasn't worked.

There have been over 140-car crashes here and three deaths over the last three years. $1.2-million federal grant dollars were awarded to the county to make the road safer.

Part of that money will provide critical safety improvements to 1.2 miles of this road from East Wapato Road to Philip John Road, as well as another 28 of our most dangerous rural county roads.

KIMA went out to North Track Road near Wapato to look at the problem first-hand.

For about as far as the eye can see there are no shoulders along the narrow road. The county says improvements will include repairing and adding those shoulders to give drivers more space.

Other improvements include re-striping, adding guard rails, bigger stop-signs and reflectors along the road to highlight the path. Bumps will also been smoothed out of the road.

"When you put numbers on fatality rates, I mean the cost of life...you just cannot have any number on it. So the sooner the better to avoid a fatality or any minor crashes," said Yakima County Senior Traffic Engineer Malik Rehman.

It will be a welcome change for Theresa and her family with hopes they won't find themselves along one of the deadliest roads for much longer.

Phase one of the improvements calls for the construction on North Track Road. Phase two will be for the other 28 roads.

The county expects to begin the work this fall.