Northwest NEWS

July 10, 2000

Front Page

Extra lanes could bisect Duvall

Bryan Sharp

Bryan Sharp is worried about the future of the town he grew up in.
Staff photo by Lisa Allen.

Business owners want four-lane option eliminated

by Lisa Allen, Valley View editor

   DUVALL--A four-lane highway through Duvall is not imminent or even being planned, but still, Bryan Sharp is worried.

   "I ask customers to sign this petition," he says. "It's the only option I have ... The town is growing fast and traffic is getting worse, but we don't want to lose businesses by having four lanes through downtown."

   What Bryan and others in the Main Street business district are concerned about is wording in the transportation element of the town's 20-year 1994 comprehensive plan. Because of projected heavy traffic in the future, the plan states that traffic delays would only be alleviated by a four-lane highway, but at the same time, it addresses concerns over adverse effects of four lanes on Main Street business.

   Because of those concerns, the plan suggests the implementation of a three-lane road, with the center lane as a turn lane. But the plan also says, in effect, that traffic could become so bad sometime prior to 2010 that the city may choose to reconsider a four-lane option.

   The comp plan is currently under review, making it a good time, Chamber of Commerce members say, to banish that alternative. They have mounted a drive to collect signatures on petitions that ask that the City Council eliminate the Hwy. 203 4-lane option from consideration in the city's comp plan, "based on the belief that the 4-lane option will destroy Duvall's livability by eliminating on-street parking, impacting pedestrian friendliness and safety, and damaging local small business."

   Main Street businesses are making sure visitors are aware of the situation. At CC Espresso and Ice Creamery on Main Street, where Bryan works, customers get plenty of information dished out along with the ice cream. Coming from a family of local business owners, the 17-year-old Cedarcrest sophomore is well aware of the possible consequences to the Old Town area if Main Street ever goes from two lanes to four.

   "I'm afraid it will be destructive to the businesses here," he said. "I grew up here and hate to see it changing so fast."

   Bryan's aunt, Joan Ramsey, owns the ice cream shop and the adjacent antique store. President of the Duvall Chamber of Commerce, she is active on the Comp Plan Task Force. She said her personal stand and also the Chamber's stand on the issue is that a four-lane highway would "ruin the town and the quality of life."

   She emphasized that the four lanes should never be an option. "If it is left as an option, the state will look no further for other alternatives," she said. "WSDOT said if the option is in the comp plan, they will look no further for other alternatives. We need to work with the state for other alternatives. We have been told by King County transportation that Duvall could become a role model for other small towns that need to deal with increasing traffic. We don't want to put four lanes in at the expense of the town. Why work so hard on parks and trails to let the town be destroyed?"

   Duvall Planning Director Doreen Wise said there are lots of issues in the comprehensive plan, but "traffic is a huge issue for every town. And as far as the state department of transportation is concerned, what we go with is what DOT will work toward."

   Besides the four-lane alternative, she said, the city could stay at two lanes and expand a parallel arterial, possibly on 1st Avenue, but that "there are topography and property issues with that."

   A Main Street analysis cites previously considered alternatives. Alternative #1 is four lanes with off-peak parking lanes, as stated in the comp plan. This alternative would also eliminate existing turn lanes, restrict on-street parking during peak hours, changing to two lanes during off-peak hours, a concept that would not work in practice, said Wise. "Things like that (used on a daily basis) need to be consistent," she said.

   Other alternatives include a WSDOT four-lane plan without turn pockets, four lanes with turn pockets, two lanes with parking (no action), three lanes with parking, and other configurations, as well as creating a bypass arterial.

   Wise said she would like to see a final draft of the comp plan finished by mid-August so the city could move on to the public hearing process. "There could be numerous public hearings on a plan like this--it could be a long process."

   She said part of the process on amending the plan is "a general cleanup to make the document more user-friendly and readable for the public and include a major update on maps, capital facilities, and the parks and recreation plan and to make sure the city is developing in accordance with the comp plan.

   "Everything we do needs to be consistent with the plan," she said. "Plus we need to update it to be eligible for grants."

   Wise said the city will continue to grow, even with the sewer moratorium, because there were applications already in for about 800 housing units. A large development south of downtown, Copper Hill Square, will contain 88 townhouses, 12,000 square feet of office space, and 22,000 square feet of retail.