Thumbs up or down on roundabout? Citizens invited to have their say Tuesday night

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A roundabout already in the design phase at Five Corners is predicted to be a lively topic of discussion at Tuesday night’s Edmonds City Council meeting.

The City Council voted unanimously last July to authorize the mayor and city staff to sign a consultant agreement to begin the planning process for the roundabout at 212th Street Southwest and 84th Avenue West. The city received a federal grant for $463,000 to fund final design and right-of-way acquisition; with a required 13.5 percent local match set to be paid for through the city’s Street Fund.  The city is continuing to pursue grant money for the construction phase, Williams said.

Despite the earlier unanimous council approval, lately some councilmembers and citizens have been questioning the value of the roundabout, given the city’s current budget challenges. At their Dec. 6 meeting, councilmembers agreed to hold a public hearing on the project — along with a proposed $1 million stoplight at Ninth Avenue and Caspers Street — Dec. 20 to get citizen input on whether either or both of the projects should be removed from the city’s 2012-2017 City’s Comprehensive Plan and Capital Improvement Program and Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program.

In an email sent to its members last week, the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce said the roundabout was important to the business community for the following reasons:

-It will reduce traffic delays through the intersection by more than 90 percent. “This reduces the time drivers (commuters, shoppers, etc.) will waste waiting to pass through five Corners by 145,000 hours per year,” the email said.
– It will ensure that the intersection’s level of service will meet meet State Growth Management Act requirements. Without the roundabout, “any future development either at Five Corners or between Five Corners and HWY 99 could not be approved if it would add traffic to this intersection,” the email noted.
– It will significantly reduce air emissions and improve air quality.
– It will “provide a more aesthetically attractive central focal point for a redeveloping Five Corners center where street-level retail (shops, restaurants, etc.) with residential above can take advantage of improved access without having to pay for frontage improvements or the solution to the current level-of-service problem. Instead the bulk of the cost will be paid for by federal grant dollars.”

According to City of Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams, the city has spent $70,000 on consulting fees for the project so far and would have to return the grant money and absorb that cost if the council decides to stop the project.

Prior to the 7 p.m. meeting, the council will meet in executive session starting at 5:30 p.m. to discuss potential litigation and a real estate matter, then at 6:30 will host a reception honoring departing City Councilmembers Steve Bernheim and DJ Wilson.

The following items of interest are also before the council Tuesday:

– As part of the consent agenda, acknowledging a claim for damages from Kimberly Cole, the ex-administrative assistant to former Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper. The damage claim form, which you can see here, claims “tortious conduct” that includes the following:

  • She suffered “an injury for which she would be eligible for workers’ compensation,” but her supervisor (Cooper) “advised her to refrain from filing for workers’ compensation and to avoid seeking medical help.”
  • She was the subject of false and unprivileged communications by city employees, negligently, recklessly or maliciously made to third parties.”
  • City Human Resources Director Debi Human “took private and confidential information to which she had access solely due to her position “and disclosed it to non-privileged parties.” This information “is highly offensive to Ms. Cole and not a matter of legitimate public concern,” the claim states.
  • She was subjected to “vicious rumors and harassment at work” and that she was discriminated against based on her sex and/or disability.
  • She didn’t receive accommodations for her disability (Cole said she was diagnosed with, and was being treated for adult Attention Deficit Disorder).
  • She was not paid all wages owed to her in timely manner and didn’t receive all benefits promised to her

–  Discussion and potential action on a proposed legislative agenda and a professional services agreement with city lobbyist Mike Doubleday.

–  Discussion on proposed “survey comparators” — essentially the cohort of cities that Edmonds would be compared with — in a salary and benefits study for non-represented employees.

– Review of a request that the City of Edmonds support the Transportation Partnership, a coalition of business, labor, local government and environmental representatives from around Washington state who are advocating that the state Legislature develop a comprehensive solution to the state’s transportation challenges.

 

16 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree with each point in the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce email sent to its members last week regarding the need for a roundabout at the Five Corners intersections.
    I lived for several years at Parkview Firs Condominiums at Five Corners.

    The corner is safe and convenient for both pedestrians and vehicles, partly because the five-way stops impact traffic to a safer level than if changed to a roundabout, and has a good impact on businesses at Five Corners. Drivers must get off their phones and concentrate at Five Corners, and be alert and aware.

    At the Downtown Fountain it is entertaining to watch our Public Safety people double team ticket the vehicles rolling through stop signs, as many drivers barely pay attention to their driving or surroundings.

    Compare infractions ticketed at the Roundabout on 5th and Main to traffic tickets given at Five Corners. Another roundabout will increase traffic ticket income.

    If the cost of borrowing money to build the roundabout were not an issue, I would still prefer the more open Five Corner configuration as is for safety, business activity and community impact.

    It is true that roundabouts are easier to speed through, increasing public danger.

    Rubie Johnson
    510 Forsyth Lane #304
    Edmonds WA 98020
    December 19, 2011

    Cc City Council

  2. In reviewing the points made by the Chamber the following point is of major importance for this project to continue:

    – It will ensure that the intersection’s level of service will meet State Growth Management Act requirements. Without the roundabout, “any future development either at Five Corners or between Five Corners and HWY 99 could not be approved if it would add traffic to this intersection,” the email noted.

    The City of Edmonds needs to develop its economic base in order to alleviate any further tax burden to its residence. In order to attract new businesses to support our economic development the city will need to further develop the infra-structure in our surrounding areas such as Five Corners.

    Yes, there will be a cost to the city nevertheless it will come back to us ten fold by attracting new economic growth.

    I challenge our city council to stay focused on their original decision and the long term benefit to our city.

    cc City Council

  3. Ms. Johnson, I agree with all of your points in oppisition to the round about. It would have more impact if you could come to the council meeting and read your letter or email the mayor and have him read it into the record.

  4. Living just up Bowdoin from Five Corners, and being a frequent jogger through that intersection, I’ve got a few opinions on the matter
    .
    – Cell phone habits are not changed with stop signs. As a matter of personal amusement, I keep a running ration of people looking at the road, vs. their cell phones. It’s usually 4:1, which is entirely unsatisfactory.

    – The roundabout proposed for Five Corners is not like the ill-placed / ill-executed fountain at Main and Fifth. The fountain isn’t in the center of the road, and the lanes are not curved towards the direction of traffic. This isn’t a roundabout. It’s a poor four way stop with a major obstruction in the center. So don’t use 5th and Main as an example – try using one of the actual roundabouts in place around the county.

    – The “level of service” at an intersection is a poorly understood metric. Let’s just make it what it is: the average number of cars getting zero miles-per-gallon, as they sit and wait for the confused people ahead to figure out when it’s their turn to go. Armchair philosophers will proclaim there will be doom and devastation at a new roundabout. As they proclaim with every change. It isn’t so. Roundabouts move traffic better, and we’d all breathe easier if the traffic kept moving.

    – Roundabouts are designed to prevent cars from simply speeding through. Again, experience with roundabouts, here and overseas, has shown me quite the opposite. Cars must slow down due to the two changes of direction required to enter the traffic pattern. Go to the local roundabouts, watch, and try it.

    – The accident rate at Five Corners is low, in my opinion. However, the confusion and frustration factor is high. And as for pedestrians, I think it’s reasonably safe during most of the day, but would be enhanced by having shorter crossings and the proposed medians for safety.

    – The City has to address this intersection as a matter of fact, not because there is a secret roundabout cabal. Note that, of all of the opinions against the roundabout above, not one offers a solution that reduces backups and makes the air breatheable along 212th St SW at 5pm.

    Opposition, in order to be valid, must present a lucid and realistic alternative to the proposition on the table. I haven’t seen such an alternative to the roundabout yet, but am open to anything that meets the goals of this project, with a financial impact of the same magnitude.

  5. Without the roundabout, “any future development either at Five Corners or between Five Corners and HWY 99 could not be approved if it would add traffic to this intersection,”an emai from the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce noted.This, of course, is directly from the Public Works spiel.

    First of all, there is no known development likely to take place in this area in the foreseeable future. There’s been empty commercial space at Five Corners for more than a year. And I would expect that any developer who wants to do a project in this area would appeal any blockage resulting from the Growth Management Act. I believe that the level of service numbers being quoted are suspect, as they do not coincide with the considerable monitoring of the intersection that’s been done by citizens. I believe that the developer would prevail.

    The proposed roundabout needs to come to a deadend.

  6. I agree with Ray,
    Stupid idea,,too many round-a-bouts in Edmonds..don’t get it !!
    Will slow traffic down.
    Why waste money on a something that is not needed?
    Do you just have alot of cement laying around?
    It’s going to upset everyone who uses that intersection on a daily baisis.
    Sharon Ulberg

  7. Todd,

    The most reasonable current option available is to do absolutely nothing at this time.

    If and when vehicle or pedrestrian traffic becomes a REAL problem then the first viable option to be considered would be to consider a traffic signal, that is a red/green yellow light.

    Comparing 5/Main to 5 corners is illogical as there is simply too many differences.

  8. I agree with Ray; the right alternative is to do nothing at this time. Regarding the air quality, my wife and I are in our 70’s and we periodically walk thru 5 corners; air quality has not been a problem for us.

    This roundabout issue is a solution looking for a problem. In this case the problem has been invented.

  9. I’m not in the habit of agreeing with Chambers of Commerce, but in this decision, I concur with them and with the Public Works Departmnent. A roundabout will reduce the indecisions and delays at this intersection. It will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the stops and gos during peak hours. It will avoid having to repay to the state the consulting work done thus far. It is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan for the Five Corners area. It will replace the present sea of asphalt at this high visibilit;y entrance to the city. The fact that no redevelopment has been proposed during the past two years reflects the general economic conditions.

  10. Again, I’m for the roundabout. This would be a beautiful addition to MY neighborhood and the City of Edmonds. This intersection has always been confusing, dangerous, and quite frankly, ugly. I believe this would impact the neighborhood and the city nicely.

  11. Gail:

    Those opposing the roundabout are not so much concerned that it won’t work, but rather that it’s something we really don’t need at this time. Our country is simply spending too much money on things we do not need and for which we don’t have the money – unless we borrow it from China.

  12. Ill make a comment on it. First of all the car or truck on the right has the right away, its amazing to me how many people do not understand that who drive. Im not certain that a roundabout is going to make that intersection any safer. It has 5 stops and most roundabouts only have 4, besides most people don’t even knows the rules of the road. The public works director is pushing this thing cause he gets a grant, he pushes anything that has a grant or free money attached too it, he should thats just good business. If its a really really good deal go ahead and do it but we don’t need it. what we need is for people to understand the rules of the road and put there phones down and drive. If i was a cop I would hang there and just write tickets. $125.00 for talking on your phone and driving

  13. Last night @ about 8pm I found myself @ 5 Corners; by myself. Nary a vehicle, bike or person in sight. The total time for my complete stop and go was 3 seconds (I was counting). At other times, with other cars across from me, it might be a 5-7 second wait. I’ve used 5 Corners for 17 years, crossing from all five points. And in only a small, small number of times have I been caught in a traffic jam. Yes, my fault as I could use other routes that avoid 5 Corners during the 90 minutes of going home traffic. I join the many who state the obvious…for 98% of the year, traffic moves well, pedestrians/bikers/dogs are safe and no problem exists that needs an expensive roundabout. If built however, I urge folks to avoid the circle @ rush hour as mayhem will be in full swing. Leave 5 Corners alone!

  14. Well, once again I missed a “juicy” City Council Meeting! I guess watching “My Dog Spot” was well worth the .99 cents I spent for it unlike the potential spending of over a Million dollars( there are always cost overruns with the City’s contractor procurral system, plus, of course, inflation-which really doesn’t care if we are in a “bad” economy or not!) for a round-a-bout. I enjoyed watching Spot chasing his own tail. Unfortunately, if we allow a round-about to go in at 5 corners we will lose the innocence of having to stop at a stop sign and wait for your turn to proceed. I wonder if cars really do have tails? Just consider this little tid bit as a “pop up”. Just hit the “X” and delete me. I think thats what we should do with the “round-a-bout”. Delete it!
    Note to Mayor Earling: I know you will do the best job possible to represent the citizens of Edmonds and I know there will be a lot of “trivial pursuits” that you may or may not have any control over but hang in there. This is a test! This is a lesson! My money is on your leadership.
    Ron Smith
    Edmonds

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