Energize Eastside, traffic calming, dominate town hall

July 2, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Speed bumps and power lines were the hot topics of conversation at the city of Newcastle’s annual town hall meeting June 16.

By Christina Corrales-Toy Deputy Mayor John Drescher (right) answers an audience question, as City Councilman Rich Crispo listens beside him.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Deputy Mayor John Drescher (right) answers an audience question, as City Councilman Rich Crispo listens beside him.

During the meeting’s second hour, the Newcastle City Council fielded audience questions, with a sizable group of neighbors from in and around Southeast 75th Street using the time to express concerns about speeding on the street.

“People are more using it more than ever before, because they realize that every other street now has speed humps,” one resident said.

Neighbors from the street came to last year’s town hall meeting and at least one Newcastle City Council meeting in 2014 to ask the city for traffic-calming measures on the street.

In the past, residents said they have trepidations about letting their children play in yards, and are concerned about the effect the speeds have on a nearby bus stop as students wait for and exit the vehicle.

Residents on the street want to see speed bumps installed.

It’s not that simple, though, Newcastle City Manager Rob Wyman responded. A traffic analysis done on the street hasn’t triggered what the city normally would require to install speed humps. That traffic analysis isn’t the only consideration, though, he added.

“At the end of the day, this is what then becomes a policy decision by myself and my City Council,” Wyman said.

The issue with speed bumps is placement, Wyman said. Residents often complain when they are put directly in front of their houses, he said.

To that, a chorus of Southeast 75th Street residents yelled “Put it in front of my house.”

Mayor Steve Buri assured residents that the City Council would take a closer look at traffic-calming measures for the street at an upcoming council meeting.

Before they do, though, one resident asked that any council member who uses the street as a thoroughfare to reach downtown Newcastle abstain from voting on anything dealing with traffic calming on Southeast 75th Street.

Councilwoman Carol Simpson, an Olympus resident, admitted she uses the road to avoid speed humps in her neighborhood and get to places such as the Newcastle Library.

“I’m getting tired of driving over speed humps. I’m getting tired of paying for bills for my car repair,” Simpson said, eliciting jeers from the crowd.

On the web

Watch a video of Newcastle’s question-and-answer portion of the town hall here.

“That’s not an excuse,” a resident responded, noting that if you drive slowly, speed bumps shouldn’t affect your car. Simpson responded that some of the city’s speed bumps aren’t constructed to code.

Simpson added that she doesn’t believe speed humps are the solution to traffic issues. Renton, for example, puts an emphasis on ticketing speeding drivers, instead, she said.

One of the other hot topics was Puget Sound Energy’s Energize Eastside project. Residents asked for council support in fighting the proposal to build about 18 miles of high-capacity electric transmission lines from Renton to Redmond.

“I am going to be — and the best word I can use is — a victim, of PSE’s Energize Eastside,” one resident said.

The mayor and other council members were firm in voicing their opposition for the project.

“I don’t mind saying for me personally, I don’t see the benefits to Newcastle,” Buri said.

“I’m not convinced that it’s needed,” Deputy Mayor John Drescher added. “I’m very convinced that it will detract from the neighborhood.”

About 100 residents filled The Golf Club at Newcastle’s St. Andrews Ballroom for the two-hour event.

In the first hour, city departments staffed booths and visual displays offering information and education about community resources. The open-house-style approach allowed residents to speak directly with both staff and council members in a more informal arena.

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4 Responses to “Energize Eastside, traffic calming, dominate town hall”

  1. Carol Simpson on July 4th, 2015 1:37 pm

    Regarding traffic calming on Southeast 75th – yes this street needs safety improvements – sidewalks AND traffic calming. Speed humps are not the only method of slowing traffic. Narrowing streets, placing landscape islands to slow traffic, striping the centerlines so that lanes appear narrower and cars drive safely on their own side and more slowly, and tightening radii at corners, are other methods of calming traffic. Our public works street design code should be improved so that roads are built correctly in the first place, so that traffic proceeds at a good design speed of no more than 25 mph in our neighborhoods.

    To clarify my statements, I do not choose my routes to avoid speed humps. I cannot avoid speed humps. As an Olympus resident, the only 2 routes in and out of our neighborhood have speed humps. We cannot avoid speed humps. 20 years of driving daily over speed humps, no matter how slowly, takes a toll on one’s car. Not every one buys a new car every 3 years.

    Newcastle residents demand and deserve a good quality of life. Neighborhoods full of speed humps are not good quality neighborhoods. Some people avoid speed humps by driving over the side on the sidewalk. As one resident told me when he requested a speed hump in front of his home, now his children are in even more danger as drivers drive over the sidewalk! Everyone needs to respect the speed limit and stop at all stops signs in their neighborhood and on their neighbors’ streets. If we all did this, we would be much better off.

    I will continue to advocate for safe streets, traffic calming methods and safe sidewalks. Going to the library from Hazelwood/Donegal neighborhood should be a safe and fun walk. I see families, old people, kids, and women with baby carriages going down 75th to the library and downtown Newcastle regularly. Providing sidewalks and calm streets is essential NOW. And in the immediate future, with growth exploding on 129th, this is a serious issue I will continue to address until we get a good solution.

  2. Matt Hubert on July 16th, 2015 11:40 am

    In response to Carol Simpson’s comments:

    “Speed humps are not the only method of slowing traffic” – True, but the other traffic calming options you mentioned are not planned for implementation. Speed humps are the most cost effective solution and would bring SE 75th in line with the rest of the routes out of the neighborhood that ALL have speed humps.

    2nd paragraph: Our whole neighborhood drives over the humps in and around Olympus. No one else is having to buy a new car every 3 years. Two solutions: Slow down or enforce that contractors build the humps to code. Again, my family’s safety outweighs damage to your car for driving too fast.

    “Neighborhoods full of speed humps are not good quality neighborhoods.” Why has the city council allowed them to go in all over the neighborhood?

    “Some people avoid speed humps by driving over the side on the sidewalk.” Not an issue on SE 75th, sidewalks are not rounded off.

    “And in the immediate future, with growth exploding on 129th, this is a serious issue I will continue to address until we get a good solution.” What solution have you proposed for SE 75th? What is in work?

    Bottom line: The residents that walk this road and live on it want speed bumps. SE 75th should have them like every other inlet and outlet to the neighborhood.
    Olympus residents who want to use this route to downtown as their path of least resistance should not be considered. The fact that a city council member who does so and is fighting the neighbors on this is ridiculous and a major conflict of interest. If this was a road in another neighborhood it would be a non-issue.

    Neighbors, plan to be at the City Council Meeting on Tuesday July 21st at 7:00pm to address the Council on this matter.


  3. Marcus on July 16th, 2015 11:57 am

    You have got to be kidding me! This “car repairs” junk is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard! A road hump taken at the proper speed will do zero damage to your car. Driving down the freeway stresses your suspension far more than a slowly rolled over road hump. That’s a fact.

    So you’ve had to get some suspension repairs on a car over a 20 year period? That’s called owning a car! You live on top of a massive hill, I’ll bet you’ve had to replace your brakes more than average too.

    This sounds more and more like “I don’t want them just because.”

  4. Jo Ann Pancheri on July 16th, 2015 2:38 pm

    I live on the corner of 125th and 75th. My office window looks at the intersection. I watch and wait to see an accident to happen. I watch cars, school buses, PSE work trucks, Coal Creek Water Management, semi trucks and yes, even people in our neighborhood speed down this road. I have seen people almost get hit because someone is speeding around that corner.

    To say this is a very low occurrence apparently has not sat in my yard and watched. I have been almost hit a few times by cars while doing yard work. The biggest offenders are those who turn to go to Olympus neighborhood.

    So if you are not concern over the safety of this area and the repeated calls, emails, letters, and appearances at meetings then why keep asking us if you plan on not doing anything. I don’t remember any council meeting about the speed bumps at the entrance to 125th but yet they got it and as soon as they did the traffic increased in our area.

    Do I believe city council is concern over my safety and those of my neighborhood, the answer would be no, and so would a lot of my neighbors who have almost been hit.

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