Northwest NEWS

November 4, 2002

Front Page

King County collects input on widening W-D Road

congestion.jpg by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   It's not going to happen soon, but it is going to happen.
   King County is proposing road improvements for a mile and a half stretch of the Woodinville-Duvall Road from 168th Avenue NE (Mack's Corner) to just west of the Avondale Road NE intersection.
   Eighty area residents attended an open house Oct. 29 to learn about and comment on the proposed alternatives for this Woodinville-Duvall Road project.
   The project has been on the county's radar screen since 1997. It is currently funded through the design stage; however, it is not yet funded for construction.
   "It could be seven, eight or nine years until it is funded for construction," said Matt Nolan, a King County managing engineer assigned to the project. "Of course, if we got significant grant funding, we would be able to move the project up," said Nolan.
   Planners, commuters and locals agree that something needs to be done to reduce congestion and enhance safety along this two-lane road.
   The county's Department of Transportation estimates 22,000 vehicles a day travel the Woodinville-Duvall Road. In fact, the department considers the road to be a principal east-west arterial and expects to see 30,000 vehicles per day using the road by 2025.
   Studies indicate current evening rush-hour speeds along the road can be less than 30 mph.
   And analysis shows over 60 percent of accidents within this segment of the road are rear-end accidents, largely due to cars making left turns from the through lane. Since there are no sidewalks, residents have no safe access to the roadway or to recreational facilities or businesses along it.
   The county is analyzing five road remedies.
   The No-build Alternative
   Under the no-action alternative, no roadway improvements would be made. One travel lane in each direction would remain, as would variable shoulder widths for pedestrians and bicyclists. No new turn lanes would be added.
   The public had this to say about the no-build option. (Remarks come from comment forms filled out by open house attendees and from statements written on comment boards at the open house. Not all comments are included.)
   Pro:
   * This is acceptable. Fix major arteries and we have no troubles.
   * This is the best alternative. Traffic will never be fixed.
   * Keep only two lanes. Do not encourage more cars by building more lanes ...
   Con:
   * Something needs to be done. The current situation is terrible.
   * Not a viable option. My children catch the school bus on this road and the shoulder is being used (by cars for passing).
   * Safety on this road is a must. So do something.
   The Three-lane Alternative
   This option accommodates drivers who are turning. It adds a center lane and improves the shoulder to a consistent width, whilst maintaining one travel lane in each direction. The intersecting side roads will be improved as necessary to accommodate turning vehicles.
   Public reaction to the modest three-lane proposal went something like this.
   Pro: (There were a total of 25 pro comments, 3 con)
   * Good alternative for people who live along this road. Won't decrease house prices and gives better access to left turns.
   * Three lanes, please, destroying as few of our lovely trees, scenery, etc., as possible.
   * Best choice. Maintains rural atmosphere yet alleviates access problems onto and off of Woodinville-Duvall Road. Also helps flow of through traffic.
   * I think a three-lane alternative would be good. However, a protected shoulder area for bikes and pedestrians is a priority for my family.
   Con:
   * Three lanes would seem to be a temporary fix with need for improvement in another 10 years.
   * Three lanes won't help much, especially during rush hour.
   * Three lanes wouldn't relieve rush-hour congestion.
   The Four-lane Alternative
   This option accommodates through traffic. It would provide an additional lane in each direction as well as shoulder and intersection improvements. Left turning vehicles would use the inside through lane. The intersecting side roads will be improved as necessary to accommodate turning vehicles.
   By and large, those present did not favor the four-lane alternative. Comments ran one in favor, 16 against.
   Pro:
   * Reluctantly, I settle for four lanes, room to pass left-turners and added capacity to relieve congestion.
   Con:
   * Four-lanes: Too much increase in traffic. Motorists will drive too fast. Starts to look like a freeway at this point.
   * Both four and five lanes will increase traffic and then we will have to meet to discuss a seven-lane alternative and so forth. This expansion is unnecessary and will only send us into a vicious cycle of growth and urban sprawl.
   * The four-lane option is the worst of the alternatives and would do nothing to help the situation - it might actually make it worse.
   * Four- and five-lane plans are good only for those racing to build even more developments.
   The Five-lane
   Alternative
   This option accommodates through traffic and turners by adding a travel lane in each direction as well as a center turn lane. The intersecting side roads will be improved as necessary to accommodate turning vehicles.
   The public had this to say about the "something for everyone" five-lane option. Pro comments numbered 13, con statements numbered 19.
   Pro:
   * If we don't need five-lanes yet, we will soon. It would be irresponsible with tax dollars to put in too few lanes now, only to start all over again in a few years.
   * Five lanes seem to be the best alternative with a marked bike lane and separate walkway for pedestrians.
   * I prefer the five-lane solution, as it will carry future growth in Duvall and surrounding areas.
   * Having lived in the area for 18 years, I believe there must be a center turn lane on the road. I prefer either the three-lane option or the five-lane option. Of those two, I would go for the "full meal deal" of the five-lane option, since doing the three-lane option would mean just coming out and doing it all over again in a few more years.
   Con:
   * I don't want another Avondale Road. No five lanes. House prices would drop. People would drive 60 mph. Traffic would be worse and McDonald's would move in as people sold their properties because they didn't want to live on a freeway.
   * Don't need three extra lanes for an additional 8,000 cars.
   * Never a "five-laner." Don't make Woodinville look like L.A. or Seattle, for that matter. We love the country aspect of this area.
   * Five lanes (as well as four lanes) are 100 percent unnecessary. It would only encourage increased growth in traffic as well as having a harmful impact on the surrounding environment. Wetlands are essential to the ecosystem and would be negatively impacted with this growth. Creating four or five lanes would not be a good long-term solution to this problem. Other alternatives need to be explored in greater depth and this ridiculous alternative be abandoned.
   Intersection-improvement Alternative
   This option also accommodates drivers who are turning. Main intersections (185th Avenue NE, 182nd Avenue NE, 176th Avenue NE, 171st Avenue NE and 168th Avenue NE) would be improved, left and right turn pockets would be added; but additional through lanes would not be added.
   Pro:
   * A turn lane is not necessary for the full length of this project; intersection improvements make the most sense.
   * Need intersection improvements.
   * Tolerable. Additional traffic lights are a great solution.
   Con:
   * Problem is not just at intersections. Left turns are also made at every driveway.
   * Regarding intersection improvements, I don't believe this is worth the time.
   Non-motorized Options
   The ultimate cost of the project will not only be determined by the number of lanes added, said managing engineer Nolan. Non-motorized treatment options will have to be chosen and factored into the project cost, he said.
   Those options include items such as providing shoulders-only for the roadway, or providing a shoulder with a path alongside for pedestrians. Then it has to be decided if the path should be separated from the road, if the path should be concrete. Should the sidewalk have a planter strip? Should the county provide a grass-lined roadside ditch? Should it provide a bike lane, curbs, gutters and storm sewers for drainage?
   Environmental Issues
   According to Erin Nelson, an engineer for King County assigned to the project, the county is beginning a series of environmental studies, which will be incorporated into a larger report, an Environmental Assessment.
   Being studied are things such as air quality along the corridor, streams, wetland delineation, endangered species, historical and cultural resources, socio-economic issues, noise, and parks and recreation.
   The public weighed in on environmental issues.
   * (There is a) red-tailed hawk nesting area (nearby).
   * (We had) deer in the yard a week ago.
   * Does this project impact those with operating wells?
   * Woodinville-Duvall Road is critical habitat to the Bear Creek salmon runs. Regarding the five alternatives being considered, the three-, four- and five-lane road alternatives need to be dropped immediately. We should not encourage zillions of cars and their pollutants to drive through this corridor. Further, the construction of such a project will have serious negative impacts on the quality of water that feeds into these salmon streams.
   * Expanding the road would encourage increased car usage and (would) increase output of pollution that damages the ozone layer, the air we breathe, and ultimately our own health. Again, is it worth it? In addition to this, major pollutants would be output during ... construction ... .
   * Lake Leota residents are concerned about noise, water and air pollution.
   Other Area Projects
   Road improvements are planned for the Woodinville-Duvall Road / Avondale Road NE intersection. This project is already 100 percent funded and in the planning stage.
   Senior Engineer James Eagan of the county's Capital Projects Engineering Unit said the project boundaries will run from just before the Woodinville-Duvall Road / Avondale Road intersection to 198th Avenue NE. Numerous improvements are being considered including a left lane turn pocket for the Reintree community. Construction could begin in 2005.
   Plans are also in the works to improve the Woodinville-Duvall Road / Mink Road intersection. The county is considering putting in traffic signals and perhaps a turn pocket. Eagan hoped funding would come through next year.