Neighborhood traffic plan is approved

By Teresa Herriman, The Courier-Herald

The Bonney Lake City Council approved a traffic control program spearheaded by Councilman Neil Johnson at its December meeting. The Neighborhood Traffic Control Program will provide a procedure for community neighborhoods that have been impacted by increasing traffic.

Johnson began working on the project last summer in response to concerns by residents about traffic safety in residential areas. The plan is to foster cooperation between neighborhoods and the city to promote safe neighborhoods for motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and residents.

Increased traffic congestion in recent years has cause some motorists to look for alternative routes through neighborhoods. Typically, this cut-through traffic travels at higher speeds than is acceptable for residential neighborhoods.

Johnson began by investigating traffic control programs in 19 cities from Washington to Montana. "I picked what I thought would work for Bonney Lake from their programs," Johnson said. The goal is to create safe and attractive streets, improve neighborhood livability, make efficient and effective use of city resources, help reduce the negative impact of motorized vehicles on the environment and promote pedestrian, bicycle and transit use by citizens.

Only neighborhood streets are eligible. The process begins with a written request to the Bonney Lake Police Department, 18421 Old Buckley Highway. The police will assist residents in gathering traffic data and work with the public safety committee and city engineer to make recommendations regarding traffic calming solutions, such as speed bumps, stop signs or roundabouts. Even the use of "loaf turtle" traffic features can alert drivers to the need to slow down.

Neighborhoods can choose to pay 100 percent of the cost of traffic mitigation or petition to form a local improvement district and apply for city funds. The City Council will make all funding decisions. Eligibility is determined using a scoring criteria based on the collected data. Factors include speed, traffic volume, number of collisions, the existence of a sidewalk, the proximity to a school and the location of a major pedestrian crossing. Petitions for funding are reviewed twice a year and must be submitted by March 30 and Sept. 30 for consideration.

"Everyone thinks everyone speeds," Johnson said. "The biggest battle is to make people aware of it."

The first test case has already been selected. Rose Bresina has collected data on traffic in her neighborhood on Sky Island Drive and will present it to the public safety commission at its Jan. 5 meeting. Johnson said that the first case will determine if the program will need to be revised. "We have to see how it pays out and how it works for us," he said.

Johnson said getting residents involved with the city police and engineers will take pressure off police and get problems resolved

more quickly.

The Neighborhood Traffic Control program is one of three aspects to an overall Speed Development Program that includes the addition of sidewalks and lighting in Bonney Lake neighborhoods. Johnson said that plans for the sidewalk and lighting portion of the program have begun and he hopes to have the programs in place next year. "Our number one goal is safe neighborhoods," he said.

For more information about the program, contact Neil Johnson at 253-209-8850.


Eligibility Criteria for the Neighborhood Traffic Control Program

Neighborhood streets may be considered for installation of traffic calming devices when all of the following criteria are met:

1. The neighborhood has participated in phase one of the program to an appropriate level as determined by the city traffic engineer.

2. The posted speed is 30 mph or less.

3. The 85th percentile speed of vehicles is at least 5 mph over the posted speed, or the cut-through traffic exceeds 25 percent of the total volume of traffic on the street. Cut-through traffic refers to those vehicles having neither an origin nor destination in the neighborhood.

4. The street is not a primary emergency response route.

The city engineer may approve exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

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