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Tackling Redmond traffic issues | Letter
Mike Collins raises some important issues in his letter concerning the conversion from four traffic lanes to three on 166th Avenue Northeast.
I understand that it can take a long time for city projects to be finished, and it has been four years since consideration of the completion of the conversion process on 166th was started. At the several public meetings there was initial skepticism about the plan until the successes of the Northeast 85th Street conversion and the upper 166th conversion were reviewed. With two lanes in each direction, any left turning vehicles simply block all traffic behind in the left lane, and buses or slow moving vehicles in the right lane impeded that traffic. The initially counter-intuitive advantage of the three lanes is that left turning vehicles are removed from traffic.
One of the prime benefits of the four to three conversion is for motorists entering 166th from side streets and turning left. Currently, with four lanes, a left turning vehicle has to have three clear lanes to enter traffic safely. Experience has shown that vehicle throughput is increased, perhaps at a slightly lower speed with one through lane in each direction.
As far as southbound bicyclists are concerned, there isn’t really much change. Bicyclists currently use the right southbound lane. The same speed limit applies to bicyclists as to cars. Our experience on the much steeper Northeast 104th Street down slope off Education Hill is that bicyclists don’t ride at excessive speeds or lead to accidents. Bike lanes keep bikes out of traffic lanes and off the sidewalks. Having never actually been able to ride all the way up 166th to the top from Northeast 85th Street, I cannot comment on the visibility problem in northbound bike lanes.
Mr. Collins is understandably frustrated by the slow pace from public hearings to completion. I think it is a valuable lesson not to make final decisions on projects unless you have the money to build them. We face a similar issue on the Redmond Way/Cleveland Street couplet conversion. That project, now millions over budget despite scope reductions, is restricted by plans and funding decisions made 10 years ago.
Hank Myers, Redmond City Council member