Round the circle we go

Record Editorial

  • Friday, October 3, 2008 2:56am
  • Opinion

The city of North Bend is currently trying to decide what to do at the intersection of North Bend Way and Cedar Falls Way, the intersection near Les Schwab Tire Center. I have gone back and forth myself on which alternative will be best in the long run for the city. The decision to change the intersection is triggered by safety. Cedar Falls Way is at a usage level F which is considered dangerous. Vehicle accident statistics are hard to determine from the intersection, but there are several spots along North Bend Way that need to be addressed in the short term.

So the question comes down to roundabout versus traffic light. I have stated many times that residents here are not used to roundabouts and that traffic lights are simpler. If the only consideration was ease of use for motorists I would say, hands down, the traffic light is the best way to go.

But the decision involves many factors. Vehicle traffic, pedestrian traffic and aesthetics all have to be taken into consideration. A consideration for future growth also has to be taken into account but, honestly, I don’t buy the concerns about maintenance costs. Regardless of which route is taken, both options will have maintenance costs.

Looking extensively at both plans and talking to the planning department, I am leaning toward a roundabout. Both options provide ample pedestrian flows. Both options will work at that intersection. But from an economic and aesthetics position alone, the roundabout is a much better choice.

The city of North Bend is struggling with its identity. By providing aesthetic strong points along North Bend Way, maybe we can slow traffic down long enough to support our local businesses. We can also use the roundabout as a gateway entrance with nice signage. The only decent gateway the city has is on Bendigo Way near the South Fork bridge into town.

Some people may argue nothing needs to be done at the intersection and honestly, I drive that route every day. The traffic is never backed up that badly but I can see why people in Si View might think something needs to be done. Eventually, considering that the Maloney Grove road and acreage is in the Urban Growth Boundary for the city, there will be more traffic to deal with. So my vote is a roundabout with some serious thought about aesthetics.

But here is another thought: The city needs to seriously consider an additional route east and west at the east entrance to town. Currently the state Department of Transportation owns property between Orchard Street and Cedar Falls Way. I would urge the council to consider adding an additional route in the comprehensive plan the next time it gets updated. Lets plan on extending Cedar Falls Way to Orchard, improve the route past the Si View Neighborhood and create another east-west route out of the city. It has been evident, numerous times, when there is something causing North Bend Way to be closed that another route is needed. Lets plan for it now to deal with additional downtown traffic. A suggestion I heard was to make a cul-de-sac at the end of Orchard as it enters North Bend Way to make the area behind the apartments safer. As the city’s economy grows, additional business street frontage will need to be developed and opening up another east-west corridor through town makes sense.

Maybe a compromise to the current dilemma is to install a traffic light at the North Bend Way and Cedar Falls Way intersection and include a plan to connect Cedar Falls Way with Orchard. But considering the time it will take to get that alternative into the comprehensive plan and then put into motion would be too long, let’s go with the roundabout. (Can you believe I actually said that?)

There is something else that needs to be done soon. We desperately need a light at the intersection of North Bend Way and Ballarat. I have witnessed more than one accident at this intersection and pedestrian safety is difficult to ensure at night in a rainstorm.




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