I had the opportunity to watch the June 21 City Council meeting on public access TV and, in short, I was shocked by the behavior and decisions of the Council. To my understanding, the city has already spent over $250,000 on studies and engineering on the ICW corridor. The Council has twice taken action to revise the corridor to a three-way configuration after unprecedented public involvement and comment on the configuration. I am well aware that we are in a recession and that revenues for the city are down, but the action taken by the Council was in direct contradiction to the recommendations of the independent engineers for improving the corridor, which was the cheapest alternative of the many options. Had it not been for amendments proposed by Council member Grausz, the Council would have spent the entire 2010 TIP, plus 2011 and 2012 without reduction, in the “interest of fiscal responsibility,” again disregarding what the city has already spent on the ICW studies and engineering.
Now the Council has approved what in essence is two stoplights at 42nd and 47th at a cost of an additional $225,000 approximately. The Council has done no traffic studies or safety studies to see if this will be any kind of an improvement. My prediction is that the crosswalk stops will enrage drivers and clog through-put. There is no basis to conclude that the pedestrian stops will improve safety and certainly not to the extent that pedestrian islands and the three-lane configuration would have provided (per the paid experts).
The action taken in 15 minutes to undue 2 1/2 years of process and prior approval was governance at its worst. The blatant disregard for the paid experts’ opinions in favor of the cobbled-together bandaid for the safety concerns is inexcusable. The whole exercise failed to even address the ICW/Merrimount intersection, which was the original focus of the safety concerns that put the whole process in motion. The Council’s action also disillusions any community member who had before believed that community input has value and meaning to the Council. Mayor Pearman was correct in his on-the-record comments that the Council acted like a bunch of lunatics.
The proponents on the Council for this misguided decision continually mentioned the importance of safety on the neighborhood streets. Consider this: ICW is rimmed with cul-de-sacs and homes which are all part of the Mercer Island neighborhood. These homes house kids, teen drives, elderly and taxpayers/voters, all of which have a stake in the safety and economic security of our community. The high priority that the Council placed on filling potholes in the other neighborhoods at the stake of the safety of this corridor is deplorable.