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WSDOT submits gravel pit comments
NORTH BEND Washington State Department of
Transportation (WSDOT) officials last week submitted their official comments
regarding the proposed gravel pit on Grouse Ridge, denouncing the use of
Interstate 90's Exit 34 for gravel-hauling trucks.
The letter states that if Cadman's plan to use Exit 34 also referred
to as the Edgewick Interchange to gain access to their gravel
operation is approved, safety problems could occur.
"We know they're going to impact (Exit 34) and we need to determine
if it's severe and adverse," said John Sutherland, developer services
engineer for the transportation department.
The letter reports that WSDOT "does not favor the proposal
utilizing Exit 34" and that the agency is
"very concerned about trucks mixing with the existing commercial and
residential, and ultimately, with school traffic."
"While this mix of traffic may be forced to co-exist in some areas, it
is undesirable and unnecessary at this location," the report goes on to
state, adding that Exit 38 is "underutilized, is undeveloped and provides
direct access to the Upper Site" and is
"the logical choice as the primary means of ingress and egress for this
The submittal of WSDOT's comments has added fuel to the
ongoing debate over which interstate exit should be used to access the
proposed 300-acre gravel operation on Grouse Ridge.
In addition, the letter asks that more information be provided
than what was included in the draft environmental impact statement
(DEIS), specifically on traffic studies and traffic impacts to the area.
It also states that the number of daily truck trips listed in the DEIS
is inaccurate, as only one-way trips for the 75-foot-long gravel haulers
Many neighbors of the land, as well as Snoqualmie Valley
School District No. 410, have previously stated their opposition of using
the Edgewick Interchange.
The school district's response to the DEIS states that the gravel pit
and its resulting traffic could compromise the safety of children, school
buses and parents shuttling their kids to future middle and elementary schools
to be built nearby.
"Simply stated, our board will be pleased that the WSDOT affirms
the impact, specifically on children," said Dr. Richard McCullough,
Snoqualmie Valley School District superintendent.
The school district purchased the nearby land on Oct. 19, 1997,
well before Cadman's plans for a gravel pit were announced.
"I was very pleased that the Department of Transportation has
verified what the citizens and the moms of the Valley have been saying,
which is that additional truck traffic would be competing with school buses
and kids on bikes," said Jacki Taylor. She lives near the proposed gravel
operation and has two children that will attend the new schools when they
are built in four years.
"The traffic is going to be intense, and the likelihood [is] that within
the 25-year lifetime of this project, a child will be hurt," Taylor added. "And
I don't want it to be my child, and I don't think anyone in the Valley
wants it to be their child. It's an accident waiting to happen is what it is, and
I don't want to be reading about another death for our Valley kids we've
had enough of those the last couple of years,"
But Robin Hansen, Cadman project manager, said there are
several reasons why Exit 38 is a bad choice.
One is that in order to use Exit 38, the Fire Training Academy
Road would be used to access the site, and it would need to be widened.
This poses an environmental problem because the road runs through two
state parks and is close to an owl habitat.
"Exit 38 just doesn't work because of safety issues and
environmental impacts," Hansen said.
Another reason is that Exit 34 was specifically designed as a
truck-use interchange since Seattle East Trucktown occupies land next to
"It doesn't make very good environmental sense to put trucks
where trucks aren't when you've got an existing truck-use exit," Hansen
said. "But that's up to King County, with its [environmental impact
statement], to deduce. That's what the whole EIS process is for.
"I think there are ways that we can improve that exit with traffic
signals and widening," she added of Exit 34. "They can make that exit function
better than it already is."
WSDOT is the last organization to submit comments to King County
regarding Cadman's DEIS. Although the comment period ended in
August, WSDOT was allowed an extension because the agency was late in
receiving the DEIS due to a mix-up.
According to Sutherland, a copy of the DEIS was sent to the
Yakima WSDOT office, which is responsible for the interstate east of Exit 34.
It should have gone to the local WSDOT office that is responsible for the
area west of the interchange.
Sutherland explained that since his department is involved with the
safety of highways, interchanges and motorists, it was necessary to submit
"Our analysis is important," he said. "It's an environmental
review, and we are involved with that heavily."
The county's Department of Development and Environmental
Services, which is currently reviewing the gravel project's DEIS, will
ultimately recommend one of the two options in a final environmental impact
statement that is expected to be released early next year.