This writer has missed very few City Council meetings in the last three years and has rarely seen Council Chambers standing room only or public comments lasting an hour. Most Council sessions are concluded in under 25 minutes. Get traffic on the docket and citizens turned out in force.
Mayor Harding obviously read this blog [see July 19th entry] and announced that Level of Service (LOS) was not pertinent to the Six Year Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) saying that LOS had nothing to do with the STIP.
As mentioned by this writer on the record, it has to do with pubic safety on city streets, which needs to be considered in road projects here.
My letter to our State & County officials sums up the evening quite well:
Dear Senator Rasmussen, Rep. McCune,
Rep. Campbell & County Commissioner Oberquell,
Last night was the Yelm Public Hearing on the city’s 6 year Transportation Plan (STIP). Council Chambers were packed with a “standing room only” crowd & citizens commenting on various issues about Yelm’s traffic & road
conditions, with the hearing lasting for 1 hour & 4 minutes.
Many of the comments were about the many Level of Service (LOS) D + F intersections along the Yelm Ave. corridor that affect public safety. Pointed out was the fact that the City of Yelm has accepted LOS F conditions along this road since 1992, an LOS that was supposed to be temporary until fixed, unless something was being done to mitigate the situation. That mitigation has always been the bypass, which we all know is not totally funded and if so, will not begin construction until 2013 and opening in 2015, almost 25 years with LOS F conditions. Also mentioned were that developments adding to an LOS F road need to be kept to a minimum until the road is brought to a higher threshold. As we all know, such is not the case what with Tahoma Terra and so many other approved developments in Yelm alone. While many new road projects have added to Yelm overall, the main corridor is backed up to the Red Wind Casino on Thursday & Friday afternoons, and is nearing a gridlocked condition, which will eventually stifle growth in the area of the county.
Why even Community Development Director Beck stated last night to the Council in his Staff Report that the Hearing Examiner here for four hearings on developments Monday showed that traffic figures should be combined from new developments back in the Tahoma Terra area and when doing so, Longmire St. accessing Tahoma Terra then failed; the City had separated the traffic numbers, lessening the impact on paper. Not one question was raised about that from Council. And a failed Longmire feeds onto Yelm Ave. West! How long is this city going to keep adding failed roads to an LOS F SR 510 in city limits?
Mayor Harding stated to the audience,
“You need to be a voice and contact your State representatives. We have ongoing meetings with State officials and are very active.”
He further stated that 67% of the traffic on Yelm Ave. is from outside the City limits and originates in Thurston & Pierce Counties. He said we need to contact our County Commissioner.
Mayor Pro-Tem Isom added,
“It’s (the Yelm Ave. road conditions) a State problem. Put pressure on your State Representatives.”
Further, Council member Don Miller asked Community Development Director Grant Beck if the state controls the road, with Mr. Beck answering the city has to get permission from the State to do anything on Yelm Ave. (SR 510 & 507). Mr. Beck further stated that while that is the case, the city asked and approved a LID on a portion of that road. Mr. Miller re-emphasized that it’s still a State Highway that the State controls. In my view, using this as an excuse is absurd. The City can do almost anything they want on that road, if they consult the State.
[Mr. Miller, the city sure got a Wal-Mart entrance/egress approved quite easily on a state highway within city limits. HMMM!]
Additionally, a lady asked why Yelm even bothered having a Public Hearing, since the vote was scheduled right after the hearing. No discussion amongst the members was even scheduled or raised about all of the public comments. She suggested the decision was already made and asked Council to wait at least until the next meeting and discuss what the public said at the Study Session. I suggested tabling the STIP until further review could occur. Bottom line, the Public Hearing seemed just for show. The vote went on unanimously to approve the STIP, slam dunk.
For over three years, I have attended almost every Yelm Planning Commission Meeting & City Council meeting, as anyone there can attest. I have repeatedly spoken out on the record about traffic here, including my statements last night about deteriorating public safety along Yelms main corridor, requesting a further look at the STIP to work with State & County officials to get funding for improvements. I have spoken to Reps. McCune & Campbell in their Town Hall Meetings here about this issue.
I am writing asking for help:
City officials say to pressure you.
OK, here I am.
Or, is this issue just another toss of the football amongst our jurisdictions elected officials, while Yelm is choking in unbridled growth & traffic?
Stephen R. Klein
cc: Mayor Ron Harding
So, expect more of the same:
gridlock, safety compromises, & loss of revenue to local businesses in the “downtown core” as citizens avoid the traffic here, which was mentioned by one lady. This writer is so surprised local businesses do not go on-record to the Council about the loss of revenue because of the traffic here.
And, stay tuned for more traffic woes to come, as highlighted by the front-page headline article in the NVN out today:
“Yelm Wal-Mart busier than expected.”
And, nary a word was mentioned in the city’s newspaper of choice for public listings, the Nisqually Valley News about the largest attendance for a Council public hearing in years and the length of said meeting. The NVN had a reporter there, too.
Wazzup with that?
Why was that not considered a newsworthy item to report?
What say you?