News

Senator hoping DOT will listen to opinions

By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald

Angry that the state Department of Transportation quietly embarked upon a major highway project north of Enumclaw, state Sen. Pam Roach has set her sights on assembling a dedicated group of Plateau citizens to keep an eye on future DOT actions.

Roach, R-Auburn, is creating the Plateau Transportation Working Group. The citizen group, she said, will provide input to the DOT on issues impacting state routes 410, 164 and 169 - the three highways that slice through the region.

“We want the Department of Transportation to know we have interested citizens on the Plateau,” Roach said.

To kick-start the new group, the veteran lawmaker has called two public meetings. The first, planned for May 31, will address state Route 410; the second, scheduled for June 7, will be dedicated to highways 164 and 169. Each will begin at 7 p.m. at the Enumclaw Public Library.

Roach is encouraging interested citizens to attend and also has asked Transportation representatives to make presentations. She envisions DOT officials explaining their plans for the busy roadways and the public getting ample opportunity to provide input.

“The DOT has been making decisions without consulting the Plateau community, and we don't want that to happen again,” Roach said.

She was referring to the DOT's planned “roundabout” for the intersection of SR 169 and Southeast 416th St. The DOT has determined the intersection to be hazardous and engineers believe a roundabout will work better than other options, like traffic lights. A roundabout gets rid of traditional intersections and instead forces drivers to navigate a circular route; no one has to stop but everyone has to slow down.

Area residents were upset that plans moved forward without public knowledge. Many have questioned if a roundabout will work in an area frequented by large rigs.

Roach is clearly among those upset with the DOT and admits that the roundabout provided the impetus for the working group.

“The roundabout was a surprise to me,” she said, noting that other 31st District lawmakers were in the dark as well. “They've been spending money without knowing what the public thinks.”

Roach said she plans for the working group to gather quarterly or as needed after the initial meetings to discuss possible solutions to problems related to the three highways.

“We want the DOT to know our priorities, just as we want to know theirs. From the citizens’ perspective, they should be the same,” Roach said.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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