City’s actions make bad commute worse | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

"We find it difficult to understand how adding new traffic to a failing intersection is in the public interest."

We read with interest Mayor Law’s Op-Ed in the March 20 issue of the Renton Reporter. It is great to see that the mayor is concerned with the transportation issues facing our region and the important funding decisions being made in Olympia.

But we’d feel a whole lot better if Mayor Law and his staff would show leadership at the local level and accept responsibility for the forces within their own local control. I’m speaking specifically of the city’s decision to continue to approve new residential subdivisions that add hundreds of vehicle trips per day to the 156th Avenue Southeast / Southeast 154 Place intersection – an intersection that the city acknowledges to be “failing.”

Those who use the that corridor for their daily commute may share our frustration. Morning commute traffic stacks up in both directions on the Maple Valley Highway just to reach 154th Place Southeast. Evening traffic backs up on 156th Avenue Southeast, keeping long-time residents like ourselves trapped on our side streets, hoping for a long-awaited break in traffic.

State law (RCW 58.17) requires that the city do two important things as part of any preliminary plat approval. First, it requires that the city make an affirmative finding that appropriate provisions have been made for the public health, safety, and general welfare, including streets and roads. Secondly, the law requires the city to make an affirmative finding that the public use and interest will be served by approving a new subdivision.

We find it difficult to understand how adding new traffic to a failing intersection is in the public interest.

When the City of Renton Fire Department responds to a house fire, is it in the public interest for them to add gasoline to the blaze? When a storm water grate is plugged, is it in the public interest for our Street Department to rush to the scene with new leaves to add to the gutter – even one leaf? And when the sewer main is plugged, is it in the public interest for the Sewer Department to go door to door asking people to flush with abandon – or even once?

Why, then, does the city continue to find that it is in the public interest to approve subdivisions like “The Enclave at Bridle Ridge” and “Alpine Nursery,” which it acknowledges will add traffic to this failing intersection?

Instead of being willing to say “No” to the new traffic-generating subdivisions, which flow through the approval process faster than the traffic on I-405, the city keeps saying “Yes,” despite clear evidence that adding this new traffic is not in the public interest.

We are currently appealing the city’s compliance with RCW 58-17, but citizens of our city should not have to reply upon the courts to protect their public interest. That is the job of the mayor, his staff, and the City Council.

Sure, we’d like to see the Legislature do some good for our city this session, but wouldn’t it be nice to see Mayor Law and the City Council acknowledge the crisis in our community, and take the proactive action that is in their control?

Roger and Judy Paulsen,
Renton

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