After years of Controversy, New HAWK light coming to intersection of Snoqualmie Parkway and Fisher Ave

In recent Snoqualmie City Council meetings, the topic of a stoplight at the Fisher Ave/Snoqualmie Parkway intersection resurfaced, including citizen accusations that Parks and Public Works Director Dan Marcinko had misstated information on a 2014 Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) grant application that earlier this year landed the city a $175,000 grant to construct a HAWK light at the busy intersection.

For the past two years the light has been a contentious topic as residents of the Ironwood and Woody Creek neighborhoods reignited the call for the city to put in a stoplight they said was promised a decade earlier by Snoqualmie Ridge developer, Weyerhaeuser/Quadrant, and city officials.

In 2010, 219 residents had signed a petition calling for a stoplight at the intersection so they could safely cross Snoqualmie Parkway. That petition was eventually presented and entered into public record at a city council meeting in late October 2015.

At the conclusion of the November 27th city council meeting, City of Snoqualmie Attorney Bob Sterbank refuted the accusations, saying the claims of misstated information on the application were untrue.

Sterbank explained the grant was written in 2014 by a city planner with oversight by a Public Works project engineer, not Marcinko. He said the application was submitted with information relayed by the resident who had spearheaded the petition. Marcinko was though listed as the city contact person on the application, which Sterbank said is customary as he is the head of the Public Works Department.

At contention is a statement on the application that residents had signed a petition calling for pedestrian-activated signal at the intersection. Former City Council candidate Monica Lowney pointed out the petition was actually for a stoplight, not a crosswalk.

Sterbank said when the grant application was submitted in 2014 the planner did not have the petition, rather an email from the citizen saying she had a petition with over 200 signatures who wanted a crosswalk. He also said that the petition, although calling for a stoplight, stated it was needed to provide safe travel across the busy road for walkers.

Lowney contended as the Director of Public Works, Marcinko was responsible for knowing what was in the grant application and believes he misrepresented the intent of the petition. Lowney strongly believes a full stop light is needed for the safety of pedestrians and drivers accessing the two neighborhoods containing about 300 homes.

Grant Application slow to Fund

The city’s 2014 grant application wasn’t approved until May 2016. Mayor Larson said the application was submitted in 2014 for the 2015 grant cycle funding, but was put on the PSRC contingency list, where smaller grant requests could be funded later if bigger projects come in under budget or didn’t happen.

The grant funded in June 2017, with project completion required by June 2018. The city says the $175,000 grant will be combined with the earlier Quadrant traffic mitigation money to build the new pedestrian activated crossing signal.

Larson said because the intersection doesn’t meet the warrants legally required for a full stoplight, the city doesn’t qualify for grants for that project and the $200,000 from Quadrant is not enough to build it. The intersection does  meet standards for grant funding for the HAWK light, though.

The city does foresee a stoplight at the intersection some day, stating that when the Urban Growth area of Sno Hills West is eventually developed, traffic on Fisher would increase enough to meet the warrants and most likely a future developer would foot the bill.

History of Fisher/Snoqualmie Parkway intersection light

The original Snoqualmie Ridge development plans did call for a light on Fisher Ave and Snoqualmie Parkway when the Woody Creek neighborhood was previously zoned as a business park/retail area, but the 2001 negotiated Snoqualmie Preservation Initiative (SPI) – which stopped the controversial Snoqualmie Falls Crossing development – changed the zoning to residential, allowing Quadrant to build the Woody Creek neighborhood.

Mayor Matt Larson said many things were negotiated in the SPI, with the ultimate goal being to stop a large housing development from going in too close to Snoqualmie Falls. He explained that along with switching Woody Creek to residential from commercial, the CPI also allowed Snoqualmie Ridge division II to be developed a decade earlier than planned and facilitated street construction of “Better Way,” along with the retail area and residential area across from the fire station.

But, during SPI drafting, the light on Fisher and the Parkway wasn’t addressed. When that was realized around 2004, the city and Quadrant began legal negotiations regarding the light. Quadrant did not want to pay for it any longer as the Woody Creek neighborhood did not bring the traffic required to trigger a stoplight.

The city wanted the light to be built by Quadrant and sent letters saying the light was needed now. Negotiations ensued that resulted in the city receiving traffic mitigation funds – around $200,000 – in lieu of the light, and to be used in the future when a stoplight was needed.

What is a HAWK light?

High-Intensity Activated crossWalK beacons were designed to provide protected pedestrian crossings and are only activated when needed. According to Wikipedia, HAWK lights provide an alternative when “standard traffic signal ‘warrants’ prevent the installation of standard three-color traffic signals.”

Another HAWK light is planned for the busy intersection of Railroad Ave and River Street in downtown Snoqualmie.

Below is an example from the City of Spokane:

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Great example of over engineering something simple like a crosswalk. Money would be better spent with flashing lights on the road

  2. So now you don’t have to sprint between the speeding cars coming down the parkway. YAY!

  3. A similar light is needed mid-block between the Candy Factory and train station. It’s especially tough to see crossers at night, even they’re holding those orange flags.

  4. The Hawk light is the worst of the three options available. It sounds like a great idea, but in the Fisher/Snoqualmie Parkway location, it will not be safer. Cars and large/heavy commercial trucks will have to panic stop from speeds well above the speed limit for an unconventional and non-standard light. We should expect rear-ender accidents and worse. Especially when conditions get icy.
    While I don’t “want” a full stoplight at the intersection, I do freely admit it is the safest option for all involved and agree that a stoplight is the option that should be implemented. The city doesn’t want to do that, and has fought a stoplight at that intersection for over 10 years.

  5. Multiple Engineers that live in this neighborhood along with hundreds of residents and Fisher Creek Park visitors will tell you the traffic signal is needed and the safest option. Mike is correct, the downward slope causes loaded trucks (weighing up to 100k pounds) and vehicles to speed that cannot stop easily. Poor visibility has already contributed to multiple accidents. Multiple vehicular and pedestrian accidents have occurred at this intersection. I have brought this information to multiple city council meetings along with many other concerned residents. Common sense must be applied and the speed survey used by the city was performed in 2007 which is very old and outdated. Not all warrants were analyzed in a 2015 traffic survey. The city is selecting the least expensive option opposed to the best option by choice.
    This HAWK Crosswalk, without traffic signals, will create a false sense of security for children and pedestrians. Government agencies recommended a HAWK crosswalk not be installed 100 feet from an intersection. The city is ignoring recommendations and plans to install the HAWK crosswalk within 100 feet anyway in hopes of abandoning their contractual obligation to install a full traffic signal according to the Quadrant contract signed by our. Not to mention when the city accepted $204,710 dollars over twelve years ago. The city has used lack of funds as a reason, yet if they would have installed the signal after receiving bids several years ago, the financial difference would only be about 100k. Too bad the refused to act on this safety issue.
    Citizens met with Mayor Larson seven years ago and presented the 219 signature petition expressing their concern. It is hard to believe that this petition and citizen concern was not shared with Dan Marcinko prior to 2014.
    Residents and park visitors have waited long enough and deserve to have their hundreds of letters, emails and the petition of 219 citizens expressing safety concerns requesting a traffic light taken seriously. Safety should always come first. I believe our recently elected council members will pay attention to citizens best interest and use common sense. Even if the city installs a HAWK crosswalk, a traffic signal will still be needed. Hawk crosswalks are typically used on streets like railroad downtown where speeds are low and two lanes are typical. This intersection has six lanes where they plan to install the signal, a four way intersection and average speeds of 50 mph. It is simply not safe at Fisher and many engineers have agreed.
    Mayor Larson’s statement of a traffic signal being installed eventually by land that may be developer years down the road is a poor excuse. Mayor Larson himself did not approve of plans submitted earlier this year by a developer and the council voted it down as well. Our city has no additional water rights available to accommodate any such development nor does it have sewer capacity. There is no guarantee this land will ever be developed and residents cannot afford to wait another ten years while the city kicks the can down the road.
    Although I did loose the election by 44 votes, I did make a promise to the over 1700 people that voted for me. I will continue with my efforts to hold our city accountable for their original demand to Quadrant and commitment to install a traffic signal consistent with every other intersection on the Snoqualmie Parkway. Hopefully this will occur before someone is seriously injured or worse. Residents need to let their city council members, including recently elected Peggy Shepard and Matt Laase, know their concerns. I will not give up on a full traffic signal and four crosswalks to be installed at this intersection for citizen safety. Thank you.
    Monica Lowney

  6. Lesley Sheppard says:

    I am a resident of Ironwood and I can tell you that the majority of us still stand behind the need for a traffic light. Residents were absolutely misrepresented. I could not find a single person here who even knew what a HAWK Crosswalk was. We had to do our research on the internet to understand what is meant by a HAWK Crosswalk. A HAWK crosswalk is NOT recommended by the department of transportation for steep grades and NOT recommended within 100 feet of an major 4-way intersection. As I see it, this is an accident and lawsuit waiting to happen. The HAWK crosswalk does not address the difficulties and dangers of cars making left turns out of the neighborhoods either.

  7. Kristina Fricke says:

    As a resident of Ironwood and also one who signed the petition 7 years to have a traffic stop light and crosswalk installed, I would like to share with you a letter I wrote to our Mayor Matt Larson and all members of the City Council.

    Subject: Fisher Ave & Snoqualmie Parkway Crosswalk and Traffic Light
    Dear Mayor Matt Larson and the City of Snoqualmie Council Members;
    Bob Larson, Jodi Warren, Bob Jeans, Brian Holloway, Peggy Shepard, Matt Laase, Katherine Ross, Sean Sundwall and James Mayhew; (Jodi, please file in citizens complaint file with my other complaint regarding this matter.)

    I am writing this long over due letter to you today to plea with you AGAIN to PLEASE install a crosswalk and traffic stop light at the intersection of Fisher Ave and Snoqualmie Parkway.

    I am aware that the city is planning to install a single HAWK crosswalk with NO traffic signals.
    It is very difficult and confusing to merge onto the Parkway from both sides of Fisher Ave without a traffic light to control the speeding traffic let alone the pedestrians trying to cross it. There isn’t even a marked crosswalk to do that either!

    We have been a resident of Ironwood since 2003. We were told a couple years later that there would be a crosswalk and light installed at that intersection. ( We were also told that the I 90 interchange of HWY 18 and the Pkwy would have improvements… But that is another issue all on it’s own)!

    15 years later and NOTHING has been installed at Fisher Ave and the Parkway intersection!
    Every single intersection except the one on the Parkway has crosswalks and traffic lights! Some have even been installed in recent months!!
    What in the hell is going on with this? We were one of many residents that signed a petition 7 years ago asking for a traffic signal that were misrepresented by our city to apply for HAWK grant money, there was no discussion of a HAWK crosswalk. It was every intention to have a 4 way traffic signal with 4 crosswalks installed like every other 4 way intersection on the Snoqualmie Parkway!!

    Every single intersection on the PKWY has a frickin crosswalk and traffic light except this one!
    Pardon my expression but this issue is making me angrier by the day! With the increase in traffic due to the population in Snoqualmie and surrounding areas, it is RIDICULOUS that no action has been put forth towards this issue.

    Do you realize the many speeders that think it’s ok to drive as if they are still on I 90? Traveling 50 to 60 mph as they gain speed from the stretch between Fairway all the way down past the Fire Station ? There are NO WARNING signs what so ever of any sort warning drivers to slow down!!

    The Parkway has become a Speedway to many drivers!

    When we first moved here the police were very visible and now you hardly ever see them patrolling the Parkway.
    Don’t you realize that by installing a stop light this will not only deter speeders but will also ensure the safety of our pedestrians who want to cross over to the 2 parks on either side of Fisher Ave? One of which is the largest on the Ridge! Fisher Park!

    A HAWK crosswalk with no traffic controls would be very dangerous and unacceptable.
    Residents of Ironwood would like to see a full traffic study to be done with current 2018 traffic data.
    As Mayor of this city along with the city council members, it is your public duty to ensure the safety of our citizens. We need traffic controls on the Parkway as well as at the FIsher Ave Intersection, NOT a HAWK crosswalk.

    In closing, we would appreciate your urgency in resolving this issue in a timely manner.
    As concerned residents of Ironwood on the Ridge in Snoqualmie, we hope to see in the VERY NEAR FUTURE a crosswalk with a traffic controlled stop light! Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Edward and Kristina Fricke

  8. Our city is once again trying to avoid responsibility for citizen safety. Last week at a Parks and Public Works committee meeting, the chair of the committee, Sean Sundwall approved a bid for the possible installation of a HAWK Crosswalk at the intersection of Fisher Ave. and Snoqualmie Parkway. This occurred after months of resident outcry and traffic experts advising not to install a HAWK without doing studies first. The city Councilman Sean Sundwall claims there are not enough funds available to install a four-way traffic signal with four crosswalks at the intersection, as originally planned. However, our city accepted 205K ten years ago and signed a contract with Quadrant to do exactly that.

    Frustrated residents have been flooding city hall and council members with letter this past week asking them to NOT install a single HAWK crosswalk which they do not believe is safe.
    They are asking the city to follow through with their original commitment to install a full four-way traffic signal like every other four-way intersection on the Snoqualmie Parkway. Not only for residents, but Fisher Creek Park visitors, in addition to a public school bus stop, and two additional transit bus stops on three corners of the intersection.

    Mayor Matt Larson in very opposed to installing a full traffic signal with crosswalks, nor is he advising staff to conduct a current traffic survey. Certified Traffic Engineer Gary Norris, with DN Traffic has recently assessed the cities justification and has told them they are not doing there due diligence. For the best interest of citizens, Gary recommends a current full traffic study must be performed to ensure a HAWK Crosswalks safety. He has also not ruled out the benefit and justification of having a full four-way traffic signal instead. The intersection currently does not meet MUTCD guidelines provided by the Department of Transportation. for a HAWK. Many pedestrians have been hit in these crosswalks. After extensive investigation by Councilwoman Peggy Shepard, she has pointed out to the Mayor, staff and council members that HAWKS are typically in 20 mph school zones. Not steep slopes where cars and trucks travel at 50 mph speeds. The city refuses to order a current traffic survey. They are also ignoring MUTCD guideline for a HAWK signal. They plan to install it regardless due to receiving a grant from PSRC. Once again they waited to investigate and are coming up on a hard deadline, otherwise they may loose the grant money. Is this a reason to put citizens at risk? The city has had years to conduct a proper HAWK survey, yet have chosen not to under current leadership.
    Unfortunately a HAWK across the Snoqualmie parkway will likely result in additional accidents and does not help drivers merge onto the Parkway from Fisher Ave. Many residents have recently written the city letters explaining fear for their safety, yet it falls on deaf ears as many letter have in the past years.

    Monday evening February 13th at 7:00pm our current city council will be voting to approve installation of the HAWK crosswalk, via bid approval. Or they will hopefully not approve the bid and instead do their due diligence and conduct a HAWK traffic survey first.
    Councilman Sean Sundwall believes the HAWK should be installed based on the grant. However, Gray Norris with DN Traffic who specializes in HAWK signals, has pointed out the city is opening up itself to major liability if they choose to install aa HAWK without conducting a proper traffic survey first. Residents fear the safety of a HAWK as well as the realization that the city will not follow through with their commitment to install a four-way traffic signal as the city has promised..
    Please attend the 7pm City Council Meeting to speak your mind, witness how the council votes or to simply show support. You can also send an email to the City Council Members, Mayor Larson and City Administrator Bob Larson expressing your concern. This impacts many park visitors from all over our community, not just Ironwood and Woody Creek residents.Thank you to all of those who have participated. The safety of our children and residents should be priority. I will follow up with the outcome and report how council members voted.
    Monica Lowney
    Concerned Citizen and Community Advocate

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