Study proposed site’s traffic impact

An open letter to the San Juan County Council and the Friday Harbor Town Council:

The county Public Works Department director told neighbors that a solid waste facility would be moved to the Beaverton Valley Road site. To do so, the largest increase in heavy traffic in county history will occur on two roads least equipped to handle that increase.

What is at issue here is the prospect of a child crushed under a garbage truck or a cyclist smashed into a guardrail.

Beaverton Valley Road does not meet state or federal guidelines and is clearly dangerous. Guard Street is cramped, lacks a bike lane and is heavily used by a mix of children, pedestrians and library patrons. Guard Street accesses many schools, day care centers, parks and churches. It is incompatible with the industrial traffic Public Works proposes.

The other roads in question are wider, have less sensitive traffic and pose a lower risk of serious accident. The current site has operated safely for many years.

The traffic consultant hired to produce a draft EIS testified before county council that he would not rank the roads under consideration for safety. Why are we paying him?

The scoping determination document approved by the council requires that the consultant “Analyze all safety issues including changes to visibility and increased truck traffic and the impacts they will have on cars, bicyclists and pedestrians.”

Analyze means “to examine carefully and in detail to identify causes, key factors, and possible results.” The traffic consultant must rank the roads in order of safety and identify the factors for that ranking, by order of the council.

This trash site selection process has been marred by incomplete disclosure. Failure to fully disclose all traffic safety information and the increased accident rate due to moving the trash facility is morally unacceptable.

A trash project that increases the odds of a horrific accident is costly, irrational, and indefensible. The county council owes the people of San Juan County a complete traffic study, not a cover-up. It owes our children the safest possible environment and an objective risk-benefit decision.

Mike Macdonald
San Juan Island