Hanford Traffic Safety Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Hanford Site Traffic Safety Committee (HSTSC)
Transportation Solutions Inc. (TSI)
What are the Safety Pull Outs and what are they used for?
The shoulder of Route 4 South is too narrow for drivers to safely pull over. The safety pull outs are designated paved areas where drivers can safely pull over and not be in the way of traffic on the road. Additionally, the safety pull outs are a place where the Benton County Sheriff and Hanford Patrol can conduct traffic safety operations or enhanced enforcement of traffic laws to increase driver safety on the roads.
What is Enhanced Enforcement?
Enhanced Enforcement is another element of increasing the safety of drivers on the Hanford Site through increased observation and citation of drivers not adhering to traffic laws. The Benton County Sheriff will increase their observation, patrols and ultimately citations in order to facilitate a safer driver experience. They will be focusing on high speed and aggressive driving that puts others at risk during high volume periods.
Why is the "one-way" option from Wye Barricade to Canton Ave. on Route 4 South being taken out of consideration from the Traffic Safety Plan?
After a vigorous and thorough evaluation by the Mission Support Alliance (MSA) traffic management, HAMTC, and Hanford emergency response organizations, along with support and input from the Benton County Sheriff's Office (BCSO), Washington State Patrol, and Transportation Solutions, Inc., the MSA determined that the one-way option was not viable as a short-term solution for improving safe driving conditions on 4 South.
Two key issues led to this decision. The first was concerns by emergency response organizations that the one-way option would challenge their ability to reach the scene of an incident in a safe and timely manner. The second is the fact that other traffic safety options MSA plans to implement, including traffic enforcement improvements, a merge lane and speed limit change, are expected to provide similar benefits and alleviate the need for the one-way option.
Can we add additional lanes to relieve the congestion and to improve the safety of the roads?
Yes, but the costs of such projects do not make them a viable short-term solution for relieving traffic congestion and improving safety. With the changing mission and scope of work at Hanford, the one area where additional lanes could be a benefit is Route 4 South, between the Wye Barricade and Canton Avenue (entrance to the Waste Treatment Plant). However, we will first need to evaluate other traffic management options, including mass transit, before entering into this significant capital project.
Can we establish a vanpool/carpool lane?
Not for the near future—we currently lack the infrastructure in place to establish a vanpool or carpool lane. We will evaluate this option as we move forward with our overall site traffic improvements.
Was there any consideration for sending the day shift home on Route 2 South?
Yes. Transportation Solutions Inc. (TSI), as part of the overall Hanford Traffic Safety Study, evaluated the condition of Route 2 South as an afternoon southern travel route. Findings indicated that Route 2 South would require significant capital improvements to handle safely the expected traffic loads. In addition, TSI determined that rerouting afternoon day shift traffic to Route 2 South would significantly increase vehicle emissions and overall vehicle miles traveled. As such, TSI did not consider Route 2 South as a solution for improving traffic safety.
Is anything being done to address the congestion on the SR 240 By-Pass Highway and George Washington Way?
Yes. The city of Richland is responsible for the oversight, jurisdiction and control of George Washington Way (GWW) and Stevens Drive. SR-240 is a state highway under the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). DOE has talked to city officials and they indicated to us that they have initiatives in progress for improving traffic light synchronization and the overall traffic flow. We expect to see improvements by the end of the year. WSDOT has coordinated the signals on the By Pass and we have worked with Richland city officials to coordinate theirs on Stevens. The city continues making minor tweaks to the signals, but there is no more “green time” to give to northbound and southbound traffic on SR-240. The city will eventually have to accommodate the demand on the streets that cross SR-240 (e.g., Van Giesen, Duportail, Swift Street). During the afternoon traffic peak, the volume is too great for this southbound three-lane signalized corridor to handle.
Have you considered staggered work shifts? What about a site wide 4x10 schedule (reducing one day of commuting)?
Yes. Hanford contractors have evaluated staggered work shifts many times with mixed results. Shift schedule conversions can have a significant impact to both individuals and the business needs of site contractors in meeting the Hanford mission. As such, there have been limited changes made to stagger shifts. One Hanford contractor surveyed their employees and found there was very little interest in changing work schedules. TSI discussed this option in their study and concluded that staggered shifts would be difficult to establish, difficult to enforce, interfere with work force efficiency, and potentially disrupt car and vanpools. These concerns led TSI to rate this area as a low priority.
Is anything being done to improve traffic flow through the Rattlesnake Barricade in the afternoon?
Yes. WSDOT controls this intersection. They will complete some minor pavement marking changes to improve visibility from the stop sign and outline the left-turn acceleration lane at the intersection as part of a current paving contract; however, they do not have funding to do any more than that at this time. The ultimate solution would be an overpass to eliminate the need to stop, but the cost would be in excess of a million dollars and is neither in the state’s budget nor in Hanford’s budget. The site traffic engineer also has indicated the intersection does not meet federal highway standards for a signal.
What can we do as employees to help?
- We encourage your input and ideas! You can do many things to help ensure a safer commute for everyone coming in and out of the Hanford Site, including being courteous to fellow drivers, driving defensively, and following all traffic rules.
- Please be patient. Remember, it is more important to get home safely than it is to save the few seconds gained by behaving or driving aggressively.
- Please report aggressive and unsafe driving. You can call 373-3800 and report it to Hanford Patrol. Patrol will forward the complaint to the Benton County Sheriff Office (BCSO). You also can report aggressive drivers through your HAMTC Safety Reps or your manager.
You can help reduce congestion by sharing a ride with a co-worker or family member. A state program is already set up for finding/establishing carpools with other people in the community: http://www.rideshareonline.com/
How will you communicate the changes to the site work force?
We have a communications committee made up of representatives from all of the site contractors and DOE. We are developing a comprehensive plan that will include e-mail notices, reader boards, safety bulletins, employee briefings, and likely TV and radio ads.
Can we bring back the buses to ease the congestion?
It may be a possibility; however, we will know more after we do a more thorough analysis. DOE has requested all Hanford Contractors to develop an analysis regarding potential mass transportation options for the Hanford Site; MSA will lead the study and will interface with other contractors to analyze areas such as mass transit bus service, rail service, increased vanpool service, relocating non-essential personnel offsite, telecommuting, used of alternative fuels and ride sharing.
Is the Hanford Site working with other state, county and local agencies to address issues on non-Hanford roads?
Yes. We have invited WSDOT, Washington State Patrol, Benton County Sheriff, and the city of Richland to participate in Hanford Site Traffic Safety Committee activities. Those agencies have jurisdiction for all non-Hanford roads and have been understanding and supportive of our efforts. One issue for these agencies is funding. Another important issue we are trying to address is how law enforcement personnel can safely pull over an unsafe driver on SR 240. There are just a few areas on SR 240 that are considered safe enough to pull over a speeding, unsafe driver under its current configuration. Furthermore, the road configuration does not lend itself to allow an officer to safely turn around a vehicle, especially in morning and afternoon traffic.
NOTE: We will post new questions and answers as we receive them, so please check back often for the most up to date information and news for the Hanford Site Traffic Improvement Program.