Residents worry about gravel truck traffic

SNOQUALMIE - One Snoqualmie man has said that he and his neighbors are worried a gravel pit operation will put the city's roads at risk of deterioration.

Phil Cassady said the county has not done its homework on an application put in by the Woodinville-based company Hos Bros. for a project called the "5 Mile Mine and Soil Backfill" operation, which will be located about five miles into the Snoqualmie Tree Farm off the farm's Main Line road. The farm, and its road, is currently private property located in unincorporated King County. To get to and from the Main Line, however, traffic would travel to where the road intersects with Southeast 53rd Street in the Tokul neighborhood northwest of Snoqualmie. The trucks would travel through the city on such roads as Snoqualmie Parkway, Mill Pond Road and Tokul Road S.E. to get to Southeast 53rd.

If King County allows the application for the operation to go through, there will be 340 trucks making round trips to and from the pit every day, a total that is 140 more than the current 200 already allowed to come in and out. Cassady, who lives near the Main Line on Southeast 60th Street, pointed out that there has been no traffic study done that takes into account the future traffic loads put on the city's roads should the operation be approved.

"That seems like an important oversight," he said.

Earlier this year Snoqualmie sent the county a letter stating its concerns about the added traffic, especially at the State Route 202/Tokul Road S.E./Mill Pond Road interchange where the city plans to build a roundabout. Public works director Kirk Holmes said that after the city's traffic engineer looked at the project, however, it was determined that there would be no adverse effects on the city's roads.

City of Snoqualmie Mayor Fuzzy Fletcher said he would not like to see the added traffic, but said there is little the city can do if the operation is approved given the trucks will use public roads.

"I wish I had a magic wand to make it go away," he said. "But it's a King County matter."

The county issued a report last month determining that the project would not adversely impact the city's roads. It stated that "arterials and state facilities are typically designed for high-impact use" and that properly-loaded trucks are not required to do anything above and beyond state law unless they are traveling substandard roads.

Fletcher did say that Snoqualmie will be working with the Washington State Patrol to monitor truck traffic in the city. Randy Sandin, supervisor of site development services for the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services, said the trucks that come in and out of the operation will have to abide by current state laws for gravel truck travel, which include weighing each truck to make sure it is not overloaded in a way that would damage the roads, and requiring covers for loads that reach less than six inches from the top of the truck.

In order to prevent trucks from dragging gravel and dirt onto public roads, an additional 1,000-foot stretch of the Main Line road before it meets Southeast 53rd will be paved. This should allow trucks the opportunity to knock off the gravel and dirt that gets encrusted in their tires before reaching public roads, according to Sandin.

Additional mitigation for the project will include repainting lane lines on Southeast 53rd and putting up new signage in that area. Rumble strips and speed bumps will also be installed.

Sandin said the pit project is expected to last 10 years, but that there will be a study done after five years to see what impacts traffic from the project has had on the area.

Cassady is worried, however, that the mitigation will not be enough. Without the county doing a comprehensive study of the additional traffic the operation would cause, he said the public roads those trucks will travel will deteriorate.

"That intersection [Main Line road and Southeast 53rd] is going to really suffer," Cassady said.

* The public has until Aug. 15 to send comments and appeals about the project to Lisa Dinsmore at The King County Land Use Services Division, Attn.: Permit Center, 900 Oakesdale Ave. S.W., Renton, WA 98055.

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