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Council weighs direction change for 136th Avenue

By Jim Feehan

A proposal to reverse the direction of 136th Avenue Southeast attracted several comments during the Dec. 4 City Council meeting.

Proponents say the proposal to change the one-way traffic to southbound would ease the afternoon commute while Coal Creek Parkway is under construction.

Opponents say redirecting the traffic would increase traffic in the Milepost and adjacent neighborhoods, as well as cause safety concerns at Newcastle Elementary School. The street is a narrow one-lane road between 144th Place Southeast and Southeast 79th Street.

Sue Hartford, a Milepost resident, supports changing the direction of 136th Avenue.

"The greater good is to get cars off Coal Creek Parkway during the evening commute," she said.

Rich Crispo, who lives in the Highlands neighborhood, said making 136th Avenue southbound would trim time off the afternoon commute and ease an already congested Coal Creek Parkway.

"It's going to get worse on Coal Creek Parkway," he said. "Anything we can do to alleviate that congestion, we're really in favor of."

Lisa Sargent, also of Milepost, disagrees.

"To put hundreds of cars on 136th will make the roadway worse," she said.

Al Goldstein, another resident, said reversing the one-way street would do little to alleviate traffic and would create more traffic and hazards on neighborhood streets.

City staff members received 48 e-mail comments regarding the proposed reversal. Forty-one of the respondents were in favor, while seven were opposed.

Maiya Andrews, Newcastle's Public Works director, said changing the direction of the street is a tough issue.

"If we divert people that direction, we'll not see a huge drop in traffic on Coal Creek Parkway," Andrews said.

If the direction of 136th Avenue Southeast were reversed, the city would place signs notifying motorists of the change, she said.

"You have to worry about head-on collisions with people who moved away and came back,"

Andrews said. "You also don't want to change it several times. That's a chief concern. Flipping it back and forth could be hazardous."

City Councilman John Dulcich said the city should get input from Newcastle Elementary School and not rush the decision.

"The highest priority is the safety of kids and pedestrians in and around the school," he said. "The school children and the neighbors should have a higher priority over someone's afternoon commute."

City Councilman Bill Erxleben said reversing the street's direction may create more problems. He urged council members to postpone a decision until the Jan. 15 council meeting.

"A better quality decision should be made with more study," he said.

Neither Dulcich nor Erxleben are on the council now, having been replaced in the recent election.
The City Council voted 7-0 to postpone any possible decision until the Jan. 15 meeting to allow more time for studying the issue.