New acceleration lane on US 12 to get funding help from local fruit company donation

    New acceleration lane on US 12 to get funding help from local fruit company donation

    YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.--A new acceleration lane will soon be added to US 12 between Yakima and Naches to give drivers enough time to merge with oncoming traffic.

    It's part of a project that's being funded with the help of a local fruit growing company that saw a need right outside their facility.

    If you're heading east on US 12 from Low Road, it might be hard to speed up with oncoming traffic.

    "This has been a dangerous and difficult intersection for our employees and our trucks," said Kershaw Companies Corporate Affairs director Kristen Kershaw.

    Soon that won't be an issue, as Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and contractor crews will create an acceleration lane to give drivers enough time to catch up with the traffic flow.

    A flashing warning sign will also be installed for westbound traffic to let them know someone's at the intersection.

    "That is going to be the newest feature that is the first time along this US 12 corridor is a light that will flash as you approach in the intersection to warn you 'Hey don't be distracted. Pay attention, a vehicle could be pulling out across your lanes,'" said WSDOT South Central Regional administrator Todd Trepanier.

    On Friday, representatives from WSDOT, Washington State Patrol (WSP) and Kershaw Companies were on hand to celebrate the new project, which comes nearly two years after a fatal collision at the intersection.

    Kershaw Companies was given the Quality Recognition Award by WSP for donating $200,000 to help pay for the over $600,000 project.

    "When we approached the Department of Transportation about getting it fixed, they were happy to help but budgets, being what they are, it was going to be a little longer than we were willing to wait," Kershaw said.

    WSP leaders said getting money from local companies to help fund federal projects doesn't happen often.

    "It's rare that you'll find a private business that will actually step up and donate thousands of dollars," said Chief John Batiste.

    But they are grateful for the community initiative to create safer roads.

    "We've responded to a number of incidents along this intersection and this is going to hopefully alleviate that or greatly reduce it," Batiste said.

    The new acceleration lane on the highway is expected to be complete by the end of the spring.

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