City Updates Community on Traffic Safety Concerns

By January 18, 2018Connections
Issaquah Highland Traffic Meeting with City of Issaquah

The City of Issaquah returned to Blakley Hall on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 to follow up on traffic safety concerns and report early progress addressing those concerns.

For this meeting, the City brought all the leaders and decision makers involved in these matters:

  • Sheldon Lynne, Director of Public Works Engineering
  • John Mortenson, Senior Transportation Engineer
  • Kurt Seemann, Transportation Manager
  • Scott Bearbaum, Chief of Police; three police officers
  • Lesan Marshall, Neighborhood Engagement Coordinator
  • Mayor Mary Lou Pauly
  • Councilmember Chris Reh

Traffic concerns first came to a head last summer when residents on 24th and 25th Avenues NE reached out to the City of Issaquah and The Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter to voice their fears that speeding drivers would eventually cause a devastating accident. The City responded initially by gathering data on driving patterns on the two streets, south of Park Drive NE. The City hosted a community meeting in July 2017 at Blakely Hall to discuss the findings.

Since then, the City, Highlands Council and the Issaquah Highlands Community Association (IHCA) continued the conversation and began drafting solutions to stated concerns. Highlands Council and the IHCA took on the first steps, an education and influence campaign called, “Drive With Care, Walk Aware.” This campaign began in early January with the Connections cover and feature story about traffic safety in the Highlands. Kiosks and street signs were created and distributed throughout the community to remind drivers to slow down, “drive like you live here,” and for pedestrians to “walk aware.” All were asked to sign a pledge that they would incorporate driving and pedestrian-safe behaviors in their lives. We have 110+ signatures. (Haven’t signed the online pledge?)

The City opened Wednesday’s meeting with background information about what has transpired since last summer. Forging a unique collaboration between our community and the City, identifying priorities, and embarking on the education and influence campaign were the agreed first steps. The City also began emphasizing the importance of the campaign, Lynne declaring, “That’s what it’s about, changing social behaviors.”

Then the meeting turned to more of the engineering side of traffic safety. Mortenson explained, “As part of the partnership, one of the things we wanted to find was some easy and fairly economical things we could do to improve traffic [safety].” Mortenson described the pavement markings the City put down in December. These included speed limit markings on 24th and 25th Avenues NE and directional arrows in Grand Ridge Plaza where one-way streets cause driver confusion. These will be repainted in the Spring with a more durable material.

Kurt Seemann follow up with the City’s intended next steps. He anticipated complaints from the audience by prefacing, “We are engineers. We are very intentional and deliberate.  And careful about what we do. We don’t take this lightly. We might be slower than what some people would like, but at the end of the day we are focused on doing the right thing, doing the safe thing.”

The City proposed the following “Next Steps”

  • Continue working together
  • Update speed data (on 24th and 25th to measure efficacy of campaign)
  • Improve pedestrian visibility at crosswalks
  • Consider radar speed signs as appropriate
  • Use “Peak Democracy” (an online tool) to continue the conversation (coming soon)
  • Develop recommendations to share at April or May community meeting at Blakely Hall (date TBD)

You may watch the entire meeting HERE>>. Please plan to attend the next meeting in the Spring. To make sure you receive meeting notifications, like us on Facebook, read Connections news, or read our weekly e-letter.

When you have safety concerns, contact the City directly. They are setting up a new input tool for online messaging called Peak Democracy. We will let you know how to get there when that becomes available. You may also use Report a Concern on the City website. In addition, Mayor Pauly and Director Lynne also welcome your concerns via email.