Major Sunnyside highway about to get an upgrade

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- A major highway that runs through Sunnyside is about to get an upgrade. Millions will be spent for resurfacing part of the Yakima Valley Highway. And, one of its busiest intersections will get a facelift. KIMA learned how bad things are now.

Ruby Orozco owns El Sol Market. A stone's throw from this intersection at 16th Street and Yakima Valley Highway.

"I don't think it's safe."

While Sunnyside officials won't go that far, they admit the intersection needs help. Starting with the traffic lights.

Right now, old-fashioned timers regulate traffic.

"There is quite a bit of wait to turn.," says Ruby. "And, it does keep up a lot of traffic when the buses are coming out."

It's so out of sync that only one bus makes it through sometimes. Railroad tracks parallel to the highway make it worse. New LED lights will use cameras to improve traffic. Crews will also level out the intersection.

Also on the list, new sidewalks that go all the way to the edge of the intersection. And, new curbs, because in some places, there just aren't any.

That makes crossing treacherous for schoolkids and difficult for people with disabilities.

The work won't end there.

The city also plans to resurface the highway from the intersection to the McDonald's about half a mile west.

The total estimated cost is about $1.8 million. Almost all of it coming from state funding. About a tenth from Sunnyside's budget.

Ruby looks forward to the finished product.

"It's definitely an intersection that has a lot of traffic and it would be good for the businesses around the intersection."

Sunnyside plans more improvements next year. Money from the federal government could replace the intersection at 6th Street and resurface it all the way to Decatur Avenue downtown.

Work on the intersection at the 16th Street and Yakima Valley Highway is expected to begin in June.