Thursday, October 15, 2015

LCC Sends Letter To SDOT Supporting Fewer Frequent Bridge Openings During Rush Hours And Week-ends

photo that LCC included in their letter
showing Fire tTucks at stopped gate

The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) and the Northeast District Council (NEDC), as well as other individuals and groups, have written to SDOT supporting their proposed petition to the U.S. Coast Guard to limit bridge openings during extended rush hours and on weekends, similar to the way the Montlake Bridge operates. 

LCC said:
The opening and closing cycles have a major impact upon emergency vehicles including fire trucks and ambulances and halt pedestrian, bicycle, transit and vehicular traffic with often lengthy backups.   
A system of scheduled openings would provide predictability to boaters and motorists.  The LCC and NEDC letters are included in the correspondence packet.

Here is the letter NEDC letter submitted last week to John Buswell, Manager, Roadway Structures, Ship Canal Bridge Openings with Seattle Department of Transportation regarding the petition to the U.S. Coast Guard regarding Bridge Openings.
The Northeast District Council (NEDC), representing 15 community associations, applauds the efforts of SDOT to petition the U.S. Coast Guard to limit the appropriate number of openings of the Ballard, Fremont, University and Montlake bridges.  We support your petition.  The opening and closing cycles have a major impact upon emergency vehicles including fire trucks and ambulances and halt pedestrian, bicycle, transit and vehicular traffic with often lengthy backups. 
As you have recognized, the number of requested bridge openings has remained fairly steady in recent years with substantial seasonal fluctuations.  But, as you point out, Seattle is continuing to grow and the impacts of bridge openings have become more pronounced and problematic, especially with longer morning and afternoon commute periods. 
It makes good sense to better align the current closed periods to match an extended rush hour volume peaks.  A system of scheduled bridge openings, similar to how the Montlake Bridge currently operates where the bridge only opens at the top and bottom of the hour during the boating season will provide predictability for both boaters, motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.   
Thank you for undertaking this effort to address the appropriate level of bridge openings.  Please keep us informed as you move forward.


Paul Elliott, Community Relations, with SDOT’s responded via email saying:
Thank you for taking the time to let us know of NEDC’s support for additional restrictions on rush hour peak bridge openings, and for a system of scheduled openings at other periods, similar to that at the Montlake Bridge.  It is important that community organizations weigh in on this issue.
As you might expect, the overwhelming majority of those who have contacted us also call for extended peak hour opening restrictions and/or for a system of scheduled openings.  Of course, we have also heard from a number in the boating community who do not believe any additional restrictions are warranted, and/or that such restrictions would create hardships and safety challenges for boaters.  Of course, it is the US Coast Guard who will make the final determination as to what bridge opening restrictions are acceptable. 
We will  notify NEDC and all others who have contacted us once we have filed a petition with the Coast Guard.  We’ll provide details of our request, along with an explanation of how individuals and organizations can share their thoughts directly with the Coast Guard.


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