Roosevelt Neighborhood Pleads for Left TurnsPermalink +
Wed, Apr 09, 2014, 8:07 am // Riley Sweeney
The Bellingham City Council chambers were packed with Roosevelt Neighborhood supporters voicing their objections to some of the proposed Alabama Street improvements. The city, thanks to a healthy potential grant for Alabama Street improvements, has planned a whole range of changes to our beloved main drag.
The central concern, as presented by the public works department, is safety. Alabama is the second most dangerous street in Bellingham (the first being the Guide-Meridian). The proposed changes would go from four lanes to three lanes with a turn lane between Iron and Dean St (after Cornwall but before you hit Trader Joe's) and then the same for Superior Street up to the base of Alabama Hill. For the center section, from Trader Joe's through to Woburn, they proposed a raised barrier that would prevent all left turns. This barrier is called a “c-curb” (see picture).
They also planned to install more elaborate crossings, called HAWK crossings (yes, HAWK is an acronym, no it does not matter what it stands for) and improve the existing intersections to handle the extra traffic.
Roosevelt neighborhood residents seemed rather positive about all the improvements except for one. That c-curb running down the central section of Alabama was a complete non-starter. Resident after resident took the microphone and pleaded against it. They talked about how much traffic it would force onto their quiet arterials (Orleans, St. Clair, etc).
They pointed to the added time and effort it would take if they were coming from the wrong direction to drive all the way down to one end of Alabama and then all the way back just to get to their driveway. David Dopps, the president of the neighborhood association pleaded that he liked all the rest of the improvements but could not support the c-curb. Another speaker suggested the funding possibilities were “wagging the planning department” and are driving the changes rather than safety.
Several residents raised the issue that this sort of improvement bisects their neighborhood, dividing their community and giving the impression of a busy highway rather than a neighborhood road.
Roosevelt has been a bit of a red-headed stepchild of our network of neighborhoods. It has a large rental population so there are fewer long-term residents of the neighborhood and it has a lower average income than Sunnyland or Barkley. However, the neighborhood still showed up in force to push back against such a drastic change to their community, and it appears they made an impact.
The council made no decision that night and will consider these improvements during a work session on the 21st but I spoke with Gene Knutson and he said that the c-curb is “dead on arrival.”
Wed, Apr 09, 2014, 8:07 am // Riley SweeneyCity pushes for Alabama Street improvements, residents speak out
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