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Downtown Ferndale intersection slated for improvements

A southbound car waits on 1st Avenue to turn onto Main Street after electronic traffic signals had been removed (December 5, 2017). Photo via My Ferndale News webcam

Since April of 2017, cross-traffic and pedestrians have needed to enter the intersection of 1st Avenue and Main Street without the benefit of electronic traffic signals after it was decided by city officials they were not needed. Recently, there has been mention of further changes at that intersection.

In a presentation at last Tuesday’s Ferndale City Council meeting, Public Works Director Kevin Renz talked about projects slated for 2019. Included in the list was “First and Main Intersection Improvements.”

Ever since the signals went dark and city crews removed the lights, drivers, pedestrians and nearby businesses have complained about challenges now faced by drivers attempting to make left turns and pedestrians attempting to cross at the intersection.

When asked what improvements the project would include, City of Ferndale Communications Officer Riley Sweeney replied via email with the following.

The City is planning safety enhancements at 1st and Main. Currently we are looking at removing one of the crosswalks there and providing significant safety improvements to the other. We are working with our traffic consultant, Transpo, to finalize those options (as well as the total cost) with the goal of bringing the construction contract before council in the next couple of months so it can be installed Summer 2019.

There have been mentions during Council Committee meetings of the possibility of installing manually activated lights (beacons) on one of the crosswalks across Main Street much like has been installed across Main Street at the Ferndale Library and across Washington Street at Golden Eagle Drive. The crosswalk improvements by the library cost about $110,000 and took about a month to complete.


  1. Karen Joseph February 24, 2019

    Psst- just put the stop light back. It should have never been taken out. It doesn’t need the fancy lights the library had, just the same as it had before it was messed with.

    • Tina McCammack February 24, 2019

      That also doesn’t solve the left turn issue. I agree with you, put it back like it was.

  2. Jim Leppala February 24, 2019

    Put the light back in

  3. Brad Hand February 24, 2019

    There absolutely needs a dedicated turn signal at First and Main. With Central, Boys and Girls Club, and Pioneer Park (Senior Center and Pavilion included), accessibility should be job One. A $110,000 plus crosswalk is not the solution for that intersection.

  4. Ali Hawkinson February 24, 2019

    Traffic moves a lot more smoothly without the light, and a cross walk will help. Also making it “no left turn” from 1st Ave would be a good idea. Waiting 10-20 seconds to turn from Main to 1st isn’t such a big deal. Putting the light back in would once again double the time it takes to get from the freeway through town.

    The city had a traffic study done by an outside party that concluded the original light should never have been there, correct?

  5. Hadrian Matei February 24, 2019

    Why install the light back? Ferndale traffic is horribly slow anyway! We probably have the most traffic lights per mile, for any downtown area.
    How about build the Thornton Railroad overpass already? Between the new Malloy houses and the Meadows on Thornton, we have so many more cars that have to trickle through downtown or Washington St. That also includes about Four school zones!

  6. Rocky gist February 24, 2019

    Why does it Ferndale get their head out of their bus and finished Thornton Road that way they won’t be as much traffic going down Main Street how long is it going to take three years I mean it right out of plenty of traffic ticket they should have plenty of money

  7. Steven Allen February 24, 2019

    The 1st and Main light should simply be restored. The previous equipment can be used. It is not heavily used, but there is enough traffic to warrant it’s restoration. Perhaps it can be timed better since there are rarely long lines of cars waiting to turn onto Main.

    Where someone needs to spend money on an upgrade is the Freeway Entrance Ramp going north off of Main. An outline of yellow LEDs that light when the Left Turn onto the Entrance Ramp is available but the green through signal from the other direction is lit.

    As it stands now, drivers are expected to somehow “know” that traffic from the other direction has a green light. I’ve seen so many drivers turn in front of on coming traffic there because they were completely unaware of that green light, even with the warning sign. If the warning sign lit up when the oncoming light went green, it would visually reinforce that and lower the accidents and near misses seen so often there.

  8. Loretta Sheldon February 24, 2019

    Can we get a flashing light crosswalk at Vista and Washington across Vista?

    • Karen Joseph February 25, 2019

      This! I remember that intersection as a teen. That’s needed fixed forever.

  9. Rich. Gahlbeck February 24, 2019

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned the Large influx of Traffic that is coming with the New Businesses AND Residential Units coming right there on the Old Hawley’s Auto Parts Store Location.
    This will cause even MORE issues there, make the Property Owner help with the Signal cost, they never should have been allowed to build Apartments there anyway.

  10. Marv Waschke February 24, 2019

    I remember when the lights were put in in the late 1960s. People didn’t like them much then, scofflaws drove through red lights in protest for years. That was a safety improvement. 🙁

    I’m with the people who would like to the Thornton Road overpass accelerated. I live off Vista. After the overpass is in, I’ll take Thornton to I-5 and drive into downtown when I have a reason to go there. And I hope the reasons to go downtown will increase. I’d like to see Main Street become a business and entertainment district rather than the bottleneck on the route to and from the Cherry Point industrial area it is today. If something must be done before then, a lighted cross walk is less costly and less disruptive.

    I look forward to a time when all the Main Street lights are replaced with crosswalks, angle in parking, and downtown is for prosperous shops, eateries, services, and offices instead of dodging heavy traffic. Downtown Ferndale can be a place to enjoy.

    • Hadrian Matei February 24, 2019

      Marv, I like your vision for our city Downtown area, and everything you said.
      I also suggest that at 2nd, 3rd, and 3th Street, we should have a left turn green arrow light!!! That way drivers don’t have to wait for oncoming cars to go first, and then hopefully have enough time to turn left before the light goes RED!

  11. Kristen Rdesinski February 24, 2019

    I agree with re-installing the traffic light, I am not thrilled with the idea of the city spending large amounts of money paying consultation fees to outside organizations, making decisions that impact the community without a vigorous request for public input on options and then having to use more funds for more consultants to correct what the previous consultants suggested.
    Bottlenecks traffic at 1st & Main will remain a problem due to geography, the Nooksack River cannot be moved, and the single bridge connecting the two sides of town is the root cause of the issue, not stop lights and their locations. Having the old signals on sensors was a vast improvement over timers, removing the light has not had any positive impact on traffic unless the 1st & Main intersection is totally ignored along with the businesses and homes in that area.

  12. Brian Jones February 24, 2019

    It is amazing how many folks have difficulty staying on topic.
    Has the city actually determined how much foot traffic actually crosses Main St. at 1st?

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