Round about these parts there aren’t many roundabouts. However, I am enthusiastically convinced that a roundabout at the intersection of Cedar Falls Way and North Bend Way is the right solution.
The city staff thinks so; it has much lower long-term maintenance costs.
The sheriff thinks so; it will be safer for pedestrians, lead to fewer accidents and reduce speeding.
The Washington State Department of Transportation thinks so; it will keep traffic moving through town (rather than backed up past the post office waiting for the light to change).
The people attending the public hearing thought so; having arrived uncertain as to the preferred alternative, all but one of the written feedback forms favored a roundabout over a signalized intersection.
However, having attended both public hearings and the City Council study session, it is my strong sense that a majority of the council is not convinced, perhaps favoring a traffic signal instead.
It was revealed for the first time at the council’s work study session that the installation of a traffic signal will require the removal of the crosswalk at Orchard Street. This is the most natural and familiar crossing point for children moving from “old” or “new” Si View to Torgeson Park or the elementary school. It seems certain that children will continue to cross at this location, even in the absence of a crosswalk. This would defeat the project’s goal of improving pedestrian safety.
Yes, traffic lights are more familiar, but upon studying the alternatives and listening to the engineers and the city’s professional staff, I am not only convinced but excited by the prospect of this roundabout. I am similarly convinced that a traffic light will cause traffic congestion, be less safe for children and pedestrians, encourage people to speed through the light and cost between $400,000 and $600,000 in maintenance and operations costs over the next 30 years.
I encourage residents to study the proposed alternatives before objecting to the idea of this roundabout. It is well designed, separates traffic, must be navigated at slow speeds (unlike a traffic signal), prioritizes pedestrian safety and provides a solution that keeps traffic moving.
I similarly encourage the City Council members to heed the recommendations they have been provided and vote for a roundabout. At no point has anyone made a case for why a traffic signal would be the preferred alternative apart from familiarity. So, imagine trying to exit QFC with traffic at a dead stop behind the traffic light – certainly no place for pedestrians – and compare it with needing to learn how to navigate a well-designed roundabout.
The roundabout is an obvious choice to keep traffic moving, to make our kids safer and to keep the (new and improved) crosswalk at Orchard Street.