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October 23, 2017

10/4/2017 12:43:00 PM
Hwy 20 circle not solution

On Sept. 27 I attended the Anacortes City Planning Commission meeting. The planned Sharpes Corner traffic circle was on the agenda, and several of us were interested to hear if any of the public comments echoed our personal sentiments. Unfortunately, public comment was limited to the narrow topic of “environmental mitigation”, not the project as a whole, although one courageous woman – armed with lots of data and experience – was able to express her concerns.
The traffic circle “solution” to the congestion problem at Sharpes Corner – where SR 20 routes toward Whidbey Island with a spur toward Anacortes – appears to be a “done deal”. Many of us who have long experienced the problems there and thought about possible solutions see the proposed traffic circle as a disaster in the works, and far from the best, most workable “fix”.
Apparently, the primary factor driving the design decision is money (or lack thereof) and that, regrettably, has preempted the city and state from seeking the best solution: An elevated overpass design that would enable uninterrupted traffic flow in most, if not all, directions. Traffic on SR 20 is already beyond peak capability, with long backups not only at Sharpes Corner but at random traffic signals to and from Interstate 5 and Burlington. Many times this summer, eastbound traffic was at a standstill from the twin bridges over the Swinomish Channel all the way to LaConner-Whitney Road – a distance of approximately two miles – due to high volume and an ill-timed traffic signal.
With SR 20 capability already overwhelmed, the traffic circle “solution” is actually an impediment. It is the “wrong answer” now, with no capability to accommodate inevitable future growth in the region. If the traffic circle is installed as planned – at a project cost of $10 million – and the problem is only exacerbated as many of us predict, then what? Isn’t it better to find and invest more capital now and truly “fix” the problem than to have to come back later to repair the “damage” at even higher cost and inconvenience?
Bruce Elliot
La Conner

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