Speeding problems persist in Maple Woods

Discussions are underway again between the homeowners associations of the Maple Woods and Maple Ridge Highlands neighborhoods and the city of Maple Valley regarding the documented speeding problems on Maple Ridge Drive and Maple Ridge Way.

Discussions are underway again between the homeowners associations of the Maple Woods and Maple Ridge Highlands neighborhoods and the city of Maple Valley regarding the documented speeding problems on Maple Ridge Drive and Maple Ridge Way.

According to residents, speeding has been a problem on the two roads, with Maple Ridge Drive being the main road that connects the two neighborhoods, since both neighborhoods were built in 2002.

“Were looking for some kind of help,” Maple Woods HOA president John Peter said during an interview June 17.

One of the main concerns for residents, other than the speeding itself, is that there is a community playground located at the intersection of Maple Ridge Drive and Maple Ridge Way, and residents are concerned that the high rate of speed at which drivers are traveling is putting children at risk as they cross Maple Ridge Drive.

After the neighborhoods were annexed into the city the issue was first brought before the Maple Valley City Council in 2010. At that time a speed study was conducted and the results showed that there was indeed a speeding problem on the two streets.

On both streets the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour. In the 2010 study eastbound and westbound traffic on both streets was assessed including median speed and the percentage of drivers going over five miles per hour over the speed limit. The lowest percentage was on eastbound Maple Ridge Drive with 32 percent of drivers exceeding the speed limit by five miles per hour or more. The greatest percentage was on westbound Maple Ridge Drive at 73 percent.

As a result of the study several options that could be implemented incrementally to encourage decreased speeds were presented by the city. Among those options were road striping, speed humps, marked crosswalks including a slightly raised crosswalk on Maple Ridge Drive, a permanent speed radar sign, and shorter plant heights.

Striping was done on Maple Ridge Drive by the city to create the appearance of a narrower road to try to slow drivers.

The members of both homeowners associations were advised that they could submit a preference for one other project to be completed as funds were available in the budget.

At this point the HOA of Maple Ridge Highlands stated in a letter that they deferred to the HOA of Maple Woods, the board of which voted unanimously in favor of the crosswalks.

In the fall of 2010 the HOAs were told that there wasn’t money in the budget for the project and that the issue would be revisited in 2011.

In April 2011 another survey was done by the city and while it showed improvement in a few locations, it was noted that overall speeding was a problem and that on Maple Ridge Way the problem had actually gotten worse.

The city recommended installation of two speed humps, one on each of the streets.

In May the Maple Woods Homeowners Association conducted a survey of their residents, 301 households, to which 47 responded. Crosswalks were the preferred solution identified by 48 percent of the respondents and 29 percent supported speed humps.

In July 2011 the city adopted a Neighborhood Traffic Control Program, the stated purpose is, “The city’s public works department works with residents to help identify neighborhood traffic problems and implement solutions that are both acceptable and appropriate for the residential streets in their neighborhoods.”

The program cites two phases, the first includes community education and other minor and low cost solutions, and phase two which includes solutions such as crosswalks and speed humps among other options. Under the new program the city requires 70 percent approval of residents before phase two improvements will be implemented.

On July 29, 2011 the HOAs were notified that due to falling short of the 70 percent marker neither speed humps or crosswalks would be installed by the city at that time.

In February the HOA contacted the city as they still felt that speeding was a problem and they were referred back to the city’s 2011 decision.

“They (the city) sat on it for two years, which is why I’m a little frustrated,” Eric Knudsen, a Maple Woods HOA board member, said in an interview June 17.

Neighborhood residents attended the June 3 City Knudsen presented a letter from the Maple Woods HOA detailing residents ongoing concerns and urging the council and city to take action.

Following the meeting a radar sign was temporarily installed for a week on Maple Ridge Drive to measure cars speeds.

At the June 10 meeting Public Works Director Steve Clark presented to council on the issue and it was determined he would contact both HOAs to meet with them, a meeting was set for Tuesday, June 18.

At this council meeting the point was raised by Councilman Noel Gerken that perhaps the 70 percent threshold for resident agreement was too high.

In a phone interview June 17 Councilwoman Victoria Jonas said she supported reconsidering the 70 percent requirement and felt that it was important the issue of speeding be addressed.

“It’s a serious safety and quality of life issue for the residents that live up there and has been going on for a number of years,” Jonas said. “It’s unacceptable…public safety is our number one priority…whatever the majority consensus is of those residents, they have the right to have the mitigation that will work best for their community.”

Additionally, on June 17, rubber hoses were installed across both Maple Ridge Drive and Maple Ridge Way to less conspicuously measure traffic.

Peter said that the HOAs are looking forward to working with the city and are looking forward to seeing the situation resolved.

“A speeding problem doesn’t mean that you have people going over 25 (miles per hour),” Knudsen said. “It’s people breaking substantial thresholds.”