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Lane changes to Yakima Valley Highway in Sunnyside to stay until at least spring

The recent change along Yakima Valley Highway in Sunnyside will have to stay until at least spring, according to Sunnyside Public Works Director Jim Bridges.

City crews changed the highway from a four-lane road to a two-lane road with a left turn lane in September. This has left some people unhappy.

"I think we have really screwed that highway up," Sunnyside resident Pete Sartin told the council at Monday night's city council meeting. "We have plenty of room to have a narrower left turn lane and have four lanes."

Sartin told the council the change has increased congestion on the highway and he has asked Bridges to look into seeing if something can be done. He encouraged the council to encourage Bridges to look harder.

Sartin gave an example of the frustration he and other city residents have felt.

"I got behind a vehicle doing 20 mph," he said. "I can't pass him, legally. I did. I passed him on the right, because it's irritating as hell."

Later in the meeting, council members discussed the highway.

"We have a real problem there," Mayor Ed Prilucik said.

Bridges said his department will perform a vehicle count at the end of this month to better get a handle on congestion on the highway.

Council member Bill Gant said he was a big proponent to adding a left turn lane but had envisioned the highway staying with four lanes. He said he would like to see if four lanes could be put back on the highway but added the biggest concern was keeping the left turn lane.

Council member Bruce Epps asked Bridges if four lanes could be put back on the highway before the lighted farm implement parade held Dec. 1.

Bridges said the type of paint the city uses to mark lanes can only be applied when the asphalt is at a certain temperature. He noted the earliest the city could change the highway back would be in spring, when the weather would be warmer.

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