If you’re wondering what happened at last week’s community meeting regarding the proposed roundabout and rest stop in Montesano, the answer is: Plenty. Here’s a first-hand recap. – Ed.
March 16, 2017. Senior Center, Montesano 7 PM – Committee for Common Sense Meeting
By Ken Estes
Committee Member, Committee for Common Sense
More than 30 people were in attendance at the Committee for Common Sense public meeting concerning the Roundabout and the Rest Area proposal.
Doug Iverson lead off with a statement of why we had called a meeting and then introduced Dan Wood, the only Council member present. Dan had prepared a Power Point Presentation with aerial (Google) pictures and an overlapping display of circles showing the intersection where the roundabout has been proposed. It became obvious to all present that a small compact (110 ft. diameter) roundabout would not deal with the large truck/trailers being able to travel safely or swiftly through it.
See Mr. Wood’s Roundabout/Rest Area Presentation.
Dan’s presentation then moved to the rest area and its projected costs. This created a lot of comments. Some were:
- What was the cost of the study the city contracted? (Answer–$13,000)
- “How many pot holes would that have filled?”
- “The city’s priorities should be street repair and up keep.”
- “Where are the street crews? We never see them.”
The discussion continued with the estimated cost of the operation of a rest area. Dan reported the property where proposed is valued at $289,000 and “may be” used for the city share of the construction of the rest area. This brought up questions and statements like:
- “Why not sell the property to someone who’s store would bring additional traffic in the business district?”
- “Why do we need 116 additional cars on our streets which creates more traffic problems?”
- “How do we know how many cars will actually stop and shop in town?”
Opportunities for Public Input Lacking
Ken Estes said the Committee was formed because there was little public notification or public input to determine if the city even wanted a rest area or a roundabout, they had heard the legislature was being lobbied to obtain the money and that a plan was produced at the cost of $13,000 of general funds when the city was in dire straits.
He spoke of wood chip truck drivers who told him the compact radius is too small for a large slow moving truck to pass quickly through and that they were all opposed to a roundabout at that location. This was confirmed by a truck driver in the audience.
Wetlands? DOT? Maintenance Costs?
Dan pointed out a roundabout any larger would take up a sizable amount of wetlands which could affect the State DOT decision. Ken stated the committee had gone to Olympia and spoke to John Wynands, Regional Administrator for DOT. Mr. Wynands told the committee there had been two minor “fender benders” at that location in the past 10 years (this conflicts with Dan’s information of two minor accidents in the past 5 years).
Mr. Wynands said that the State DOT was not interested in building a compact roundabout because it would not help the traffic flow and they would only do so, if directed by the legislature. He told the committee the State did not like rest areas because of maintenance cost and they had not built any new ones for over 20 years. He said they were not interested in building a rest area, but again if directed to do so by the legislature they would build it.
The discussion became spirited and negative towards:
- Creating additional traffic attempting to enter Pioneer at Sylvia
- Creating additional traffic attempting to enter Main at Wynooche
- Cost of improving Sylvia and Wynooche streets (estimated at $920,000 and done in phases)
- Who pays for the RR crossing up-grade.
- Has the RR been brought into this discussion
- Any School District input on traffic flow
- Backup at RR crossings on Sylvia and Main when a train comes through
- Who pays for maintenance, vandalism, litter, dog feces, homeless camping in the proposed trails after the state turns it back over to the city?
- Anyone consider impact on aid calls, accident investigation, and other safety issues
- Lack of public input before more money is spent.
- Has a cost benefit analysis been done on the project (no)
Doug explained what he meant about “voodoo economics”:
“If an average of $20 was spent by drivers of 42,500 vehicles as had been stated in Dan’s presentation, where was the study that supported this, as only one city (Forks) had a rest area not owned by the State?”
Doug said he had contacted them and it was located in a transit bus station. First bus driver in the AM unlocked the doors; last bus driver at night locked the doors. The cost of cleaning, maintaining, etc. was split between the Transit and the City. This amount was estimated at $24,000 per year ($12,000 each) and there were other offices in the building that could be rented out. Forks had no information as to how many using the facilities had entered the business district and/or spent money.
City Hasn’t Answered
Dan stated the proposals have not been presented to the Council for approval or rejection. Funding has not been allocated by the Legislature and the city has not answered all the council’s questions regarding cost and impacts. He said the mayor had proposed a rest area as a means to increase business in Montesano as an economic development.
Dan took notes of comments, objections and questions and will make them available for the mayor and council.
Ken concluded with a positive suggestion, that the city offer the property for lease or sale on a condition that a retail business be built within a certain time frame or the buyer would be in default. Operation of a retail site could result in more tax revenue than what a rest area would generate and if the business was one that drew people from all over, the overflow of traffic down-town would be more than estimated from a rest area. All it would need is marketing. He was against a roundabout and believed the rest area would create more problems than not having one.
Proof Needed; Straw Poll
Doug said he wanted to see proof that it could be a benefit to the city, but did not believe the project was even worth the cost of a study. He then called for a straw poll and asked who was in favor of both projects. One person held up has hand (he does not live in the city but must travel through the city to reach his home).
Doug then asked who had not made up their mind either way and three hands went up with one stating he was against the roundabout. Doug’s next question was who was against both projects and twenty-six held up their hands.
The Committee has acquired over 100 signatures on a petition and now has a goal of 300 signers by May 1. If you would like to collect signatures or if you want to sign a petition, please contact: email@example.com or call 360—249-6559
If the city does not have a Town Hall meeting by May 1, the committee will again approach the council as ask that they do hold one. Watch our pages for updates and notifications.
Notes compiled for several persons who were present. Posted here for public information. Also see:
Committee for Common Sense on KBKW -March 10