The Yelm Planning Commission met on Monday, September 17, 2007 to review and finalize changes to Yelm’s Comprehensive Plan submitted at the August Public Hearing and in written comments due to the Commission by September 4, 2007.
Senior Planner for the Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) & City of Yelm adviser Kathy McCormick opened the Comprehensive Plan changes part of the meeting with several comments her department received. One of these remarks was in reference to the Transportation Chapter of the Yelm Comprehensive Plan and is as follows:
Chapter 1.9 Highways 507/510 in Yelm designated Highways of State Significance (HSS).
Ms. McCormick stated this listing is incorrect, as she was informed by the State that Highways 507/510 in Yelm are Highways of Regional Significance (non-HSS) and are Level of Service (LOS) D mitigated. Level of service identified as level D is consistent with the regional plan.
The Planning Commission went on to debate for an extended period of time the removal of the word “acceptable” as official city policy for Highways 507/510 with these roads remaining LOS F in the urban core. They stated they did not want the appearance to seem they (& the city council) were accepting LOS F as acceptable, even though they left LOS F in the Plan. LOS F is the lowest grade possible and there is no measurement of how low that grade can go, with traffic gridlock as a result.
This writer sat there dumbfounded at this interchange since Ms. McCormick had just mentioned these roads need to be a minimum LOS D to be consistent with the requirements of the regional plan, rather than Yelm’s lower threshold of bottomless LOS F.
At the conclusion of the 1 1/2 hour discussion of the Transportation Chapter of the Comp. Plan, I asked how the Yelm Planning Commission would include LOS D in the Plan for State Highways 507/510. Ms. McCormick’s only reply was, “We do have conflict,” to which I verbally agreed. (The City of Yelm Plan’s Level of Service is F).
A pleasant surprise and rare visitor to this meeting was Mayor Ron Harding, who attended for a portion of the discussion and unfortunately left prior to the Transportation Chapter’s conclusion.
To make this simple, here is what all of this means:
With level of service (LOS) D as regional policy on the city’s Highways 507/510, Yelm is NOT consistent with the Washington State Dept. of Transportation (WSDOT) & TRPC recommendations with its lower LOS F threshold. THIS IS THE CONFLICT.
For the city to adopt LOS D, they must reduce traffic congestion by one of two ways (or both):
1. Continuing construction of connecting and side streets. The Yelm Bypass should not be considered in this context since the construction is not funded, and even if so, is still 7 years from opening, if at all.
2. Reducing additional local traffic to these roads by no longer approving large traffic generators like housing developments and big box stores.
The Yelm Planning Commission packet (click Comprehensive Plan Update – 2007) for these changes now goes to the Yelm City Council for public comment and approval next month. Yelm City Council member Don Miller said at the July 24, 2007 Council Meeting that Highways 507/510 in Yelm fall under the jurisdiction of WSDOT and the city must surrender to them, so Yelm traffic on those roads is their issue. Mr. Miller, the City of Yelm approved and allowed a Wal-Mart to be built on Highway 507 in the Yelm city limits and I witnessed no requirement for the city to surrender to WSDOT for this project. Mayor Ron Harding said at the same meeting 67% of the traffic in Yelm originates outside of the city and this was not all the city’s issue. He told those of us in audience to write about this to our State Legislators. I did.
However, now that the State informed TRPC that Yelm Highways 507/510 under the city’s traffic plan have been improperly designated and TRPC declared the Yelm Plan in “conflict” with WSDOT and TRPC recommendations, these agencies will be hearing more about Yelm. Enough of Yelm officials dodging the traffic issue here. As I have said many times, the time has come for a multi-jurisdictional tackling of Yelm’s traffic.
To that end, the Thurston County Planning Commission public hearing for Wednesday, September 19 did not have a quorum of the Commission, so is postponed until October 3rd..
This Commission needs to hear from the Yelm community (community is defined as those that use the roads to/from Yelm) that the Yelm Comp. Plan Traffic Chapter is in “conflict” (not my word, rather TRPC’s McCormick’s) with WSDOT & TRPC recommendations. This will require Thurston County to look into the Yelm Plan’s inconsistencies.
WILL YOU PLEASE CONSIDER COMING TO THE THURSTON COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION PUBLIC HEARING WEDNESDAY,
OCTOBER 3RD IN THE THURSTON COUNTY COURTHOUSE, BUILDING 1, ROOM 280 AT 7PM AND SPEAKING UP FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR TOWN?
Let’s tell them to not permit Yelm to mince words allowing lower standards of level of service F on Highways 507/510.
THE THURSTON COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION NEEDS TO HEAR DIRECTLY FROM YOU!
Amy Swanson, Associate Planner for Development Services stated to me that anyone who wishes to have their comments be included as part of the public input, may do so in writing by the October 3rd meeting.
You may email them directly to her at:
or via snail mail to:
2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW
Bldg.1, 2nd Floor
Olympia, WA 98502
Concurrently, you may send your comments to:
Kathy McCormick, Senior Planner
Attn: Thurston Regional Planning Com. (TRPC)
2424 Heritage Ct SW, Suite A
Olympia, WA 98502
or directly to her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to mark all comments for the Thurston County Planning Commission Public Hearing Oct. 3.
All comments must be received by the close of the hearing on the 3rd.