Today’s topic is traffic. Before your eyes glaze over, stick with me for a minute.
A traffic analysis prepared by Gibson Traffic Consultants, at the request of Velmeir (the developer of the City People’s site), was quoted in this periodical as concluding that a net result of the addition of a destination supermarket and 75 residential units on Madison is only a two second additional delay at intersections!
We at Save Madison Valley have some experience decoding, clarifying, and correcting data related to this development, first from the arborist report and then the height calculations presented by Meng Strazzara Architects on behalf of this developer (see our editorial in the Madison Park Times, October 2016). We greeted this optimistic traffic report with a healthy dose of skepticism. But then, maybe anyone who’s travelled east or west on Madison during commute hours, or crossed Lake Washington Boulevard at 32nd, might have shared our skepticism.
We hired an independent traffic engineer to look at the report. Think of us as fact checkers, a recent growth industry. The Tilghman Group wrote an extensive document that goes page by page through the developer’s traffic report documenting errors and omissions. We have submitted this “analysis of the analysis” to the City. (The full report, as well as a shorter summary, is available on our website, www.savemadisonvalley.org) Here is a sampling of some of the conclusions:
We don’t yet know the true impacts to traffic due to the study’s many deficiencies.
It is appropriate to ask the City to require a revised traffic study that corrects the deficiencies.
The Dewey Street access schemes seem implausible [it] puts traffic on narrow neighborhood streets and through awkward intersections.
Whether access exclusively from Madison works remains to be seen.
From a transportation perspective, a grocery store is a high intensity use.
If you’re tired of details and want to focus on one point, how about the first one, that “we don’t yet know the impacts to traffic”. Why is that? Why would someone submit a report that, in effect, doesn’t answer the question: “how will this development affect traffic?” There are lots of possible answers: “oops, made a mistake”; or “gee whiz, I thought they did better work”; or, possibly, lets not unpack this question too carefully.
Because if a destination supermarket that is open 18 hours a day, and 75 living units, were to have a major impact on traffic, then what? If an exceptional grove of trees on the slope is protected, then what? If the height is calculated eyeing the entire site – including the 30-foot drop – then what? Might one possibly be led to develop the property in a different manner? And by different, I mean less lucrative for the developer, but more fitting to the area, its present traffic challenges, and the topography of the site.
The reason Save Madison Valley came into being is not, as some have mistakenly thought, to try to stop development. This site will be developed, along with a myriad of other projects around the city. But let’s see that our neighborhood is developed with integrity. Let’s grow together smartly and conscientiously, because that is the only way to truly protect the livability and vitality of our area. We live here, and will still be here long after the developer, architect, and others offering slapdash analyses of the site, have moved on.