Below is an email I sent to Redmond City Council, Redmond Neighborhood Blog and the Redmond Reporter (editor Andy Nystrom asked that I shorten to 500 words so that it could be included in “Letters to the Editor”) on October 31, 2016.
My intent was to shorten content to 4 minutes and speak at the November 1st Council Meeting in “Items from the Audience”; however my son had football playoffs that night and I attended that instead.
It was pretty hard to shorten this to 500 words/4 minutes; so it’s actually better in some ways that I didn’t have to give it in speech format.
Left Turn Signalization
My daily ‘commute’ is driving 3 children to 3 schools on Education Hill between 8 and 9 am; then reversing the order somewhat for pickups between 1 and 3:30 pm. This round trip commute requires that I use several roads on Education Hill to reach each of the 3 schools.
In the morning my trip begins by turning right from my house on 97th onto 166th, heading up the hill to Horace Mann Elementary. As the majority of traffic is heading southbound at this time of day, this is usually a simple task. Leaving Horace Mann, I need to drive to Redmond Elementary. I turn onto 104th, heading west around 8:20 am, and turn left onto 166th. Turning left onto 166th is helped by the left turn signal at 104th/166th; however impeded by the traffic coming up the hill from 104th/109th/Red-Wood Rd/Hwy 202. This 4 block trip from Horace Mann to 166th and 104th takes approximately 5 minutes.
Due to the traffic on 166th, I need to decide whether to stay on 166th southbound until I turn LEFT onto NE 80th street or to turn LEFT onto 100th, following it to 172nd and down the backside until I turn onto NE 80th Street. From 104th to NE 80th Street is approximately 2 miles and takes between 10 and 15 minutes, regardless of the route I take.
Due to the absence of a left turn signalized light, turning left onto 80th from 166th is variable as vehicles in the left turn lane must wait for the northbound traffic on 166th to pass by. There are very few breaks in traffic to allow a left turn in a safe and timely manner. With the addition of Station House Lofts, Redmond Triangle building and the completion of the Anderson Park Hotel in 2017/2018, THIS SITUATION WILL ONLY BECOME MORE PRONOUNCED; adding another 300 units and numerous pedestrians and vehicles to the traffic at this intersection and others nearby.
Returning home is a straight shot back up the hill to 97th UNLESS I want to run errands anywhere between Redmond Way and NE 90th Street. I have waited many mornings through several light changes to turn left from any of the three intersections that cross 166th: NE 85th, NE 83rd or NE 80th. As there are no left turn signalized lights at any of these 3 intersections, the wait is caused by the steady stream of cars heading southbound on 166th. This inability to turn left onto any of the 3 streets leading to the retail areas along Redmond Way or 85th means that an errand that took perhaps 15-20 minutes only 2 or 3 years ago now takes nearly that long just to arrive at my destination. Most mornings I just decide to skip the errand and do it later in the day when I can turn right off 166th on my way down the hill.
What is my point? Redmond has a traffic problem NOW; and it will only increase over the next 10 years. What is being done to resolve the traffic issues NOW? The City of Redmond has pinned all our transportation hopes on Sound Transit 3 which is a decade or more away from completion. 10 more years of 4 blocks in 5 minutes; no turning left from 166th or attempting to turn left without left-turn signalized intersections. Another decade of sitting in “rush hour traffic” on a residential thoroughfare just to take your children to school or to run down the hill to get milk or a coffee. 10 additional years of being shamed for driving your car instead of cycling or using mass-transit to commute to work.
The City of Redmond is projecting the addition of nearly 20,000 more housing units in 10 years as well. Traffic will continue to increase with the addition of houses and multi-family units that are being built all over Redmond and surrounding areas. Businesses that rely on customers from the Education Hill area will continue to lose income to businesses in Kirkland, Crossroads, Overlake, Bellevue or Seattle; wherever people commute from for work. With Sound Transit 3 at a MINIMUM of 10-15 years away traffic on 166th will be almost completely at a standstill between the hours of 7:30 to 9:30 am and 4:30 to 6:30 pm.
The City of Redmond needs to address traffic patterns, signalization and safety for all of these roads NOW before adding another residential project into our City. These traffic issues could be financed through impact fees and mitigation requirements paid for by developers and builders in Redmond. Developers who are making a profit on project after project, then moving on to other locations and projects while leaving the citizens and residents to deal with the traffic jams and safety issues they’ve helped to create.
Residents of Redmond should not have to wait another 10 years for the hope of reduced traffic. Please resolve traffic problems NOW by investing in left turn signalized lights at the intersections of 166th Ave. NE and NE 85th, NE 83rd or NE 80th streets as soon as possible.
Paige A Norman