Sammamish to complete street connection over objections
September 26, 2013
By Ari Cetron
New: Sept. 26, 1:49 p.m.
Sammamish will soon have a new paved section of road, over the objections of at least some residents in the area.
The chunk of road will also be skipped ahead in the queue for getting traffic calming devices installed to help reduce the impacts of the new section of street, although one City Council member at a Sept. 16 meeting was not too happy about it.
For the past few weeks, the council has been hearing from neighbors about an extension of a section of road on Southeast 14th Street. A new subdivision, known as Lawson Park, is being squeezed in between Renaissance Ridge and Windsor Fields.
As part of the process of approving the development, the city’s Hearing Examiner said the city couldn’t require the developer to complete the section of 14th that will act as a connection between Southeast Windsor Boulevard and 242nd Drive Southeast.
The Hearing Examiner further said if the city didn’t finish the section of road, it would need to install a barricade at the end of the street.
The City Council has long pursued a policy of minimizing the number of barricades and cul-de-sacs in the city, and had no appetite to create a new one. In March, the council authorized constructing the road.
Neighbors in the area don’t want it. Several of them have been attending council meetings, including the Sept. 16 meeting, to say they don’t like the idea of the connection. They fear it will mean their neighborhood will be used as a cut-through, particularly by students headed to and from Skyline High School.
Public Works Director Laura Philpot said she had a meeting on Sept. 12 with residents in the area. At the meeting, the overwhelming choice was that no connection be developed. However, if there was to be some sort of connection, the neighbors asked that it focus on non-motorized transportation, such as bike lanes and sidewalks, Philpot said.
Councilwoman Nancy Whitten suggested the city should complete the road, and that it should move up the project to the top of a list of traffic calming improvements.
Whitten said the city should finish the road before the Lawson Park development is finished, so the city doesn’t have to install a barricade and then go through the process of removing it.
While the council was supportive of the idea of finishing the road that quickly, it seemed unlikely. The development is also moving quickly, and the city would be hard-pressed to do all the work in time.
Whitten then suggested the city could complete the road and install the traffic calming within the next few months.
Mayor Tom Odell was opposed. He noted this problem is far from unique in the city and there are other neighborhoods that have been waiting for years to get traffic calming help.
“The issue is, do we put this neighborhood ahead of a bunch of others?” Odell said.
Most council members felt it should happen. They believed the city would be taking action to create the problem and owes it to residents to fix it.
“It does justify jumping further ahead of the line,” said Deputy Mayor Ramiro Valderrama.
The City Council approved the measure to build the road and jump it ahead in the traffic calming queue on a 5-1 vote. Odell was opposed, and Councilman John James was absent.
The city of Sammamish has a program of targeting specific neighborhoods that have above-average problems with speeding and works to find ways to slow down vehicles. Some of the more common strategies include things like small roundabouts or speed tables, although other programs can also be used.