Expensive changes would benefit few

Letter to the Editor

  • Friday, October 3, 2008 2:48am
  • Opinion

The Snoqualmie City Council voted recently on resolution AB No. 06-150, which will spend city money on a study to determine the actual traffic impacts of opening a road connection between Snoqualmie Ridge and Lake Alice Road.

First, the basis for considering the resolution is quite a piece of misdirection on the part of whomever authored it. The resolution states, “The City has subsequently received a petition from a large number of Lake Alice, Lake Alice West and Heathercrest residents in favor of opening the road connection.” In fact, the petition referred to when received at the council meeting of Aug. 14 had 61 “signatures” and no addresses. Of the 61 purported signatures, six were signed “anonymous” and most were, in fact, Ridge residents or from outside the affected area (including some from North Bend).

Second, while the author of the resolution to spend your money relies on a nonverifiable petition taken online, completely ignored is the fact that at the same council meeting, a petition opposing any such proposed connection containing over 240 verifiable signatures from people living in the affected area (with addresses) was not even mentioned.

The resolution states “that most of the substantial benefits of such a road connection would accrue residents of King County.” Since residents of Snoqualmie Ridge are also residents of King County, this on its face is true. In reality, those of us who live on and must use Lake Alice Road will have minimal benefits and will suffer all of the traffic congestion. Since we pay no taxes to the city of Snoqualmie, only in a dire emergency of great magnitude would the city’s fire department or police department respond to a request for help. Such a request would have to come from King County Fire District 27 (Fall City) or the King County Sheriff’s Office after they had already responded. The issue of the connection being one of safety for residents of rural King County is a red herring.

Lake Alice Road is so narrow that the county had to provide special dispensation to put a stripe down the middle. It does not meet road standards, is adjacent to several very steep slopes, has very limited line of sight distances and is very close to or already exceeds capacity. If the small number of advocates for opening a connection succeed, the road will have to be brought up to county standards.

This will result in re-grading and widening the entire 2.5-mile stretch of road, which will require condemnation of several individual parcels of private property. Ask yourself how you would feel if, in order to provide a small amount of comfort to a very few people, the city decided to take away a portion of your property, with little or no benefit to you?

Those of us who live in the Lake Alice community, including Heathercrest, down to the Preston-Fall City Road, chose to locate here in large part because of the rural nature of the area and the quality of life it affords. Those of you who live in Snoqualmie Ridge, for the most part, chose to live there because of that particular quality of life afforded by living in a densely populated community. The proposed action the city is considering threatens our quality of life, and that is the fundamental reason the vast majority of us are opposed to any permanent connection between the Ridge and Lake Alice Road.

For more than 10 years, residents on the Lake Alice plateau have been fighting the real and potential impacts to our rural King County community imposed by the master planned development of Snoqualmie Ridge. The Ridge was originally proposed to have 10,000 homes in (at that time) unincorporated King County. Ultimately, the final development was annexed into the sleepy little city of Snoqualmie of approximately 1,500 residents and scaled back to approximately 2,000 homes at final build-out.

For the impact this development would have on the city of Snoqualmie, Quadrant/WRECO agreed to build, at a cost of millions of dollars, a four-lane parkway from state Route 202 to Interstate 90, complete with traffic signals, wide shoulders, lighting, wide sidewalks for walking, jogging and cycling, landscaped medians, sprinkler systems and park benches.

Quadrant had learned from its failure to plan for road infrastructure for its sister development of Redmond Ridge and the negative impacts the 4,800 homes in that development has had on its neighboring city of Redmond, rural King County and the Novelty Hill Road area. Phase II of Snoqualmie Ridge came along five years ago and more annexation of rural land was completed by Snoqualmie; another 2,600 homes have been added to the development for a total of more than 5,000, exceeding Redmond Ridge in size.

Now that Phase II is under construction, the current mayor and City Council of Snoqualmie wants to abrogate previous protection agreements to not have any connections to Lake Alice Road and open full-time access to more than 5,000 homes for the benefit of a handful people who believe that this proposed connection would be more “convenient” for them and allow them to shave approximately four miles off of their trip to Fall City.

Finally, consider this: the cost for the type of improvements that would be required if such a connection were to be allowed are typically borne by the applicant. The 4,800 home Redmond Ridge development mentioned above is requiring a re-grading of Novelty Hill Road at a cost of $36 million (yes, million). Since the city of Snoqualmie would have to apply for the Lake Alice Road connection to King County, the city would bear the burden of funding this, which means citizens of Snoqualmie will be indebted for years to come.

Do not be fooled by the argument that nothing would have to be done to improve Lake Alice Road if a connection is made. During ice or snow, the school buses won’t proceed up the hill any further than the hiking trail above Heathercrest because the road is too dangerous. I suggest that anyone considering opening the connection should wait until an icy day in January, hop in a school bus at the top of Lake Alice Road and see what it is like to get to the bottom.

Isn’t there a better use of city money than to destroy the quality of life of many for the benefit of a few?

Dale Sherman

Fall City

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