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

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