Northwest NEWS

May 1, 2000

Editorial

Safeway and Big Rock Road

   A recent story dealt with the lawsuit that my wife and I filed against the Safeway Company and the City of Duvall. We have been characterized by the multi-billion dollar Safeway Corporation as obstructive and greedy. In fact, the greed is entirely Safeway's.

   Big Rock Road is being moved so as to perfectly bisect the 40-acre Safeway tract in order to maximize the commercial value of property on both sides of the relocated road. They assert that the huge S-turn through their shopping center enhances safety. In fact, while the traffic sight distance to the south is improved, the sight distance to the north is equally reduced. Virtually all of the left turns and channelizations were approved based on traffic sight distances and speed limits that do not, in fact, exist.

   In Duvall, the city engineer who was asked to rubber-stamp this project chose instead to resign, and another engineer was eventually found to move forward for Safeway. The city planner who approved this project's questionable design initially provided for mitigation of the road's effect on us as neighbors. A year later, after complaints from Safeway, and without any notification to neighbors, he approved a different location for Big Rock Road with vastly reduced mitigation.

   When we complained, he said that his decision could not be appealed, and that he had no obligation to seek public input on reaching his conclusions. This planner has now moved on to King County government, leaving Duvall with serious unresolved issues and large legal expenses, most of which might have been avoided had he conducted his official duties more forthrightly.

   The lesson to be learned from all of this is that citizens cannot blindly rely on the various levels of government to do their jobs with the long-term public good in mind. The individuals making these decisions move from town to town, and the developers that they interface with move from project to project. They conduct their business and move on to the next profit center.

   They move on, but their work remains, sometimes for generations. There is no way to hold them accountable for deaths and injuries in traffic accidents resulting from poorly designed intersections. There is no way to make them responsible for despoiled wet lands or contaminated runoff. They have moved on and it has all been officially approved. Be vigilant.

Bob Schader, Duvall