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Westlake Design Advisory Committee meets in a room full of public observers

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Seattle’s Design Advisory Committee (DAC) was flanked by a packed room of interested members of the public at their third meeting. Those observing represented a variety of interests as do the 13 committee members primarily, the marine industry, local business owners, floating home dwellers, and bicyclists. Beginning at 5:30 pm, the meeting followed a strict agenda, facilitated by Penny Mabie, a project manager with Environmental Issues Management, Inc. The main concerns focused on parking, traffic, bicycle safety, and economic impacts of the proposed protected lane.

SDOT presented an overview of the two alternative plans for the protected bike lane. Concept A, pdf version is available here for download, aligns the cycle track on the westside of the parking lot while concept B aligns next to the sidewalk. Both concepts consist of a 12’ two-directional protected lane. Auto flow as well as parking will likely be modified. One-way car travel is proposed also. Concern whether SDOT had studied the impacts sufficiently, SDOT representatives assured the committee that SDOT has enough information to start the design. Different parking configurations are being considered. However, angled parking reduces the number of parking places. While several committee members leaned toward concept B, there appeared to be some unwilling to give up on concept C to align the cycle track along the westside of Westlake Ave N. In spite of the fact that westside placement was rejected by SDOT, one marine business representative stated, “There are no negatives to a westside cycle track.” He added emphatically, “The cost of construction would be outweighed by the lesser (lack of) impact of the neighborhood’s economy.” In addition, one committee member suggested the building of an elevated cycle track by stating,

Many questions and concerns continued to be raised following the committee’s opportunity to view the design plots of the two options. However, the continued expression of some concerns seemed to show a lack of understanding of the design process by some committee members. Logistical issues such as ‘mixing’ areas where pedestrians, bicyclists and motorized traffic intersected, how traffic would enter and exit the parking lots and how pedestrians would be accommodated for crossing the cycle track in concept B are yet to be resolved. Rather than their existence at this stage in the design process be reason to scrub the plan, these are issues that will continue to be worked out by SDOT designers. However, for the May 21 public Open House, SDOT will present the design plans as presented to the committee.

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