Nothing calm about Edmonds City Council traffic calming presentation Tuesday night

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Edmonds City Councilmember Joan Bloom continued her efforts to dig deeper into the city’s traffic calming program, and the result was a 30-minute interrogation Tuesday night of City Public Works Director Phil Williams.

Bloom had requested that city staff make a presentation to the council following the recent disclosure that Williams agreed to use $10,000 allocated to the city’s traffic calming fund to help the Washington State Department of Transportation build a crosswalk across State Route 104 near Point Edwards.

The Tuesday night presentation started with City Transportation Engineer Bertrand Hauss explaining that the traffic calming program is part of the City’s 2009 Transportation Plan. Hauss also outlined how citizens can petition the city to address traffic calming concerns in their neighborhood, and the criteria that the city uses for prioritizing those projects, including the speed at which cars generally travel in the area, the location of “pedestrian generators” such as parks and schools, existing sidewalks and accident history.

In closing, Hauss stated that transportation staff is hoping to have $20,000 in the traffic calming fund budget for 2015 to purchase a radar feedback sign (those signs that tell drivers how fast they are going) that is detachable from its foundation and can be moved around to different locations citywide.

After Hauss answered a few questions and comments from other councilmembers, it was Bloom’s turn and she immediately asked again about the $10,000 allocation to the state’s $300,000 Highway 104 crossing. The line of questioning caused Williams to take Hauss’ place at the podium, where he repeatedly defended his decision to allocate the traffic calming dollars to the state project.

Bloom asked Williams why he did not bring the request to the council as a budget amendment, and Williams replied that he had 24 hours to make a decision about the state’s last-minute request for grant assistance. Council President Diane Buckshnis later noted that Williams has the authority to make the decision for that dollar amount without council approval, and added that the council could decide to replenish the fund at any point with dollars from a different fund.

“I consider this (the Highway 104 crossing) a traffic calming issue and I have no problem with this,” Buckshnis said. “We probably spent more than $10,000 worth of time just talking about it.” Councilmember Tom Mesaros, who lives in the Point Edwards neighborhood that would benefit most from the project, thanked Williams for his quick action to help the state secure funding for the project.

Under further questioning, Williams said that his staff in the past had not solicited citizens’ petitions as a way of identifying traffic calming projects, but instead has used other methods of feedback — such as emails from local residents– to determine where the problem spots lie. But he agreed with Bloom that better publicity of the citizen involvement process — including an announcement on the city website and making submission forms publicly available — would be a good idea, and pledged to follow up on it.

At the end of the council meeting, Bloom announced that she would be hosting her own town hall meeting on another hot button topic — proposed zoning changes for the Westgate neighborhood — from 7-8:30 p.m. next Monday, Sept. 15 at the Faith Community Church, 10220 238th St. S.W.

Bloom and Mayor Dave Earling then had a pointed exchange about Bloom’s request for staff time to help with her town hall meeting preparations. Bloom noted that Earling denied the request, and Earling replied that he determined that city staff would not being able to allocate the time necessary on such short notice. In addition, Earling said that the city has already held many public meetings on the Westgate issue.

Bloom also requested that staff post information related to the Westgate project on the city’s website; Earling said he would share that request with staff to determine if they had time to take it on.

In other action, the council:

– postponed action on whether to endorse a resolution supporting passage of Washington State Initiative 594, regarding background checks for those purchasing guns. City Attorney Jeff Taraday said that the council is required by law to first provide citizens with proper public notice of the possible endorsement so they can comment for or against the idea. The measure is scheduled to be back before the council on Oct. 7.

Janet Freeman listens as Mayor Dave Earling reads the proclamation honoring the Edmonds woman and her late husband, Bob, who died last week.
Janet Freeman listens as Mayor Dave Earling reads the proclamation honoring the Edmonds woman and her late husband, Bob, who died last week.

– watched as Earling presented a proclamation to Edmonds resident Janice Freeman honoring both her and her late husband, Edmonds environmentalist Robert “Bob” Freeman, who died Sept. 1 after a long illness. The proclamation, which you can read in its entirety here, noted that as founders of local citizen group Sustainable Edmonds, the Freemans “supported and were in part responsible or the local legislative initiatives addressing climate change, including the inclusion of sustainability as an element of the Edmonds Comprehensive Plan, installing solar panels on the Anderson Center, and the creation of the Mayor’s Climate Protection Committee in 2006.”

 

 

 

11 COMMENTS

  1. Unfortunately nobody mentioned that budget amendments are frequently made, because of time constraints, after funds have been committed to a project that was not previously approved by city council.

  2. Kudos to Ms. Bloom for keeping the fire under Phil Williams. How many pedestrians have I seen on SR-104 near Pt. Edwards? Zero. How many pedestrians have I seen on the road between my neighborhood school & nearby park? Thousands. It seems the money Mr. Williams “slides” between C.of E. & WSDOT was a waste. No problem. Rob from Peter to pay Paul. What a way to run a city.

    • Actually, the only crossing of 104 I know of in the area is incredibly dangerous. You may see few people in the area for one or both of two reasons. Pedestrians figure it’s worth their life to cross anywhere on the hill or you do not get on the road early enough to see the walkers and runners. I’m sure there is more needs/ places to correct than money; that’s the American way, but the 104 crossing is very,very dangerous.

  3. Kudos to Mr. Williams for asserting the authority granted to his position and allocating $10,000, which in turn allowed our State Government to move forward with a traffic calming crosswalk in the Point Edwards/City Park neighborhood. A job well done Mr. Williams!

  4. I spoke to WSDOT earlier today. I was told that this project was proposed by the City of Edmonds and that Edmonds was the driving force behind the project. A joke was shared regarding walking a short distance to the existing crossing at Dayton.

    He confirmed that short term action by the City was requested. I asked him what would have happened if Edmonds could not provide the $10,000. He said that the project may not have happened or that it may have been put out to bid again to see if a lower bid could be obtained.

    I still would like to know why the $10,000 budgeted for the 2014 Traffic Calming Program sat there unused for so many months. What is so great about that?

    Taxpayer money had already been spent in the past to conduct speed studies along several stretches of roadway where speeding concerns had been expressed. The results of the studies were compiled in a database to help identify where traffic calming devices (speed cushions, permanent radar feedback signs, traffic circles, etc.) should be installed, based on the current budget.

    Why was no progress made addressing the many Traffic Calming needs? Why was this $10,000 still “up for grabs”, per Mr. Williams?

    Hopefully, the $10,000 will be returned to the Traffic Calming Program so that progress can be made addressing Traffic Calming needs in residential neighborhoods. If SR 104 is really necessary, I hope the money can be found elsewhere as opposed to taking it from the Traffic Calming Program, a program that may have already been underfunded related to all the needs identified.

  5. I don’t think I have seen anything on record regarding the law and how a staff person in a city government can spend whatever of the taxpayers money without authorization and following the law. Does this mean also that Parks & Recreation staff (who often just have a degree in Recreation or other staff from any city Department can decide on their own to spend any sums of money without the usual procedure and authorizations following the rule of law and how city government works lawfully? And where is the law that asserts the authority for Mr. Williams a city staff person to spend all on his own a large amount of money like this? Has Mr. Williams been allowed to do this at other Washington cities he worked at?

    Just like the Sunset Avenue Project. Who?? are all the people that felt there was a need for this at this area, when we don’t have SAFE corners/streets where most of the people of our city walk.

    I have never seen anybody crossing that highway anywhere but at the light.

    Again, the select few always get what they want from our government, while children and the elderly, the most vulnerable, have been shown to not be SAFE on our streets, with some even dead. .

    • Ms. Ryder:
      By now I expect that most of the readers of this site know that your “select few” do not exist. This is a third request for you to name them.

  6. Satellite map of Edmonds with Pt. Edwards, clearly marked sidewalk and crossing at Dayton St. and how few residences in our city out of the whole city that are at this development. I think I see about 9 buildings. How many people. Again, large amounts of money being spent for a very small amount of people (and still wondering who they are ) and I understood in the past that this (correct me if I’m wrong) development was done by a foreign company and a lot of the residents are from somewhere else and only here briefly around a couple weeks when they come.

    ***** Is there still a lawsuit going with the company or has that been now settled?..

    Has there been any incidents recorded that have happened here with people actually trying to run across a highway, or anything anybody noticed like at 3rd Avenue with no marked crossing for children crossing the street to play at City Park??. or anybody killed on the street while crossing?
    …….Has anybody been hit here at this spot at this highway? Let’s see, how far is that Dayton Street crossing with the light?…..Are there people noted with physical conditions that cannot walk that short sidewalk to the light? We walk this street frequently and I’ve never seen anybody coming out from that development on foot.

    See below satellite map of Edmonds showing all of Edmonds in comparison to this small development.

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/92+Pine+St,+Edmonds,+WA+98020/@47.8068244,-122.3879652,995m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x54901a589d706ed1:0x2dadb9488567717a

  7. If Mayor Earling is not allowing any of the City of Edmonds staff to help Councilwoman Bloom set up for a town hall meeting with her, I am here to volunteer to help, and encourage other citizens that have questions that need answers to also volunteer to help Councilwoman Bloom.

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