Hanford Congestion Solutions

Hanford Congestion Solutions »Play Video
RICHLAND—The traffic congestion from Hanford in the morning and late afternoon is not a new problem. But we wanted to find out if there was a new solution.

A Facebook follower asked us to find out. So we looked into it and found some changes and some solutions well down the road.

The City of Richland hears a lot about the thousands of cars that pour onto George Washington Way, Stevens Drive and Highway 240. But Steve Stairs with the city says widening these roads is not really an option because it would require carving into where homes and businesses are now.

"It is the main street that travels through the town...and to make that any wider really degrades quality of life,” said Stairs.

There are two very real options that could make a huge difference. They have the huge price-tag to match.

One idea is to make Bypass 240 into a freeway with exits on major roads. That would cost $200 million dollars.

Stairs says it would cost roughly the same to add a bridge over the Columbia from Horn Rapids into Franklin County.

"We think that might have the potential to divert some of the traffic that goes down George Washington Way and the bypass," said Stairs.

If either of those projects happen, they’re ten to twenty years down the road. As to what’s happening now, Richland already has timing technology built in to traffic lights so the flow of traffic is not interrupted by red light, after red light.

Now the city is using a Department of Energy grant to upgrade that technology.

"It's about 12 years old, more of a DOS program,” said Stairs.

A Duportail Bridge would also help, but that's at least five-years out.

Staggered shifts at Hanford would also help—as would more people carpooling.

"If everyone did that say once a week, it would reduce traffic flow by about 20 percent,” said Stairs.

We also contacted the Department of Energy and Mission Control Alliance to see if staggered work shifts were considered.

They emailed us explaining they don't handle congestion outside Hanford -- and that it's up to contractors to schedule their own shifts.

But they say they do have organized van pools.