Northwest NEWS

July 13, 1998

Editorial

Writer corrects errors

   In a letter to the Woodinville Weekly accusing King County traffic planners of fraudulently doing the concurrency test for Novelty Hill Road, I made an error in some of the numbers I cited as evidence of further county cheating in favor of the developers. Unlike the county, I would like to correct those errors immediately. I will not wait for years like they have to start correcting theirs.
  
   I stated that when the planners did their 'informational use only' re-run of Novelty Hill Road, they had suspiciously removed almost as many non-UPD cars from the equation as they had added in UPD traffic to correct one of their errors.
  
   The numbers I cited were 1,320 non-UPD car trips removed and 1,660 UPD car trips added. The correct numbers were pointed out to us four weeks after we had met the Executive and showed him our comprehensive report.
  
   The corrected values are an increase of 1,294 UPD car trips and a reduction of 546 non-UPD car trips. While the magnitude of the county's mysterious removals may be less, another new mystery was exposed when they corrected our numbers.
  
   Their assumption was that as UPD car trips increased on Novelty Hill Road, the number of non-UPD trips would drop as those commuters looked for less congested ways to and from work. Here is the mystery though. While Novelty Hill Road non-UPD trips were moved onto other area roads, according to the planners, traffic on those other area roads also went down, and in some
  
   The result of their new analysis was that Novelty Hill Road actually failed the test, achieving a ratio of volume over capacity of 1.12. Anything equal to or greater than 1.10 is a failing grade, but according to the county, Novelty Hill Road passed the test this time, because they now claim it is exempt from the critical links test. They now are incorrectly applying one of their own policies to exempt Novelty Hill Road from the test that they never before had alleged.
  
   Despite all this said, there is one more massive error that the county refused to even address in our report, and this error, if corrected, would have doomed the test by a mile.
  
   The existing capacity of Novelty Hill Road is 1,175 vehicles per hour (vph), but the county used a capacity number for Novelty Hill Road of 1,350 vph in their analysis.
  
   They claim that this is the capacity of a two lane rural road with adequate lane widths, shoulder widths, turn lanes at intersections and no two stoplights closer than two miles apart. Here though is what Novelty Hill Road actually is. It is a two lane rural road, with lanes narrower than required, shoulders narrower than required and five funded stoplights all within a mile and a half.
  
   From the King County Road Division manual, the capacity of such a road is not 1,350 vph or even 1,175 vph. Those stoplights classify Novelty Hill Road as having a "short distance between lights." The capacity for such a road is just 975 vph.
  
   If the county had used this capacity in their analysis, Novelty Hill Road would have exceeded its capacity by more than 55%. Ron Sims knows this fact, and his planners know this fact.
  
   Why haven't they addressed this issue, and corrected this major flaw in their analysis if they are not still working actively to fraudulently approve the project?
  
   Ron Sims has now proposed what he calls his "Smart Growth Initiative." Don't be fooled by the slick name. What this proposal does is to divert attention away from past fraud in the county's application of the Growth Management Act-fraud that has left King County with a roads shortfall as high as 5.5 billion dollars. And if you see the fine print of his plan, you will learn as we have that Sims' proposals actually work to further weaken concurrency by lowering standards even more and exempting even more projects from concurrency analysis.
   Mike Costello, Redmond