Center curb on Bellingham's Alabama Street removed from latest city proposal

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 6, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - Residents of the Roosevelt neighborhood who opposed a center curb planned for Alabama Street may have gotten what they wanted.

The latest proposal from the city Public Works Department, which will be presented to the City Council on Monday, June 9, eliminates the maligned 4-inch "C curb" in a five-block stretch from Pacific Street to Undine Street. The C curb still would be installed to the west, from King Street to Pacific, and on the east end of the Roosevelt neighborhood, from Woburn Street to Superior Street.

The proposal also eliminates a planned traffic light at Alabama and St. Paul Street and replaces it with a crosswalk with a pedestrian-activated red light.

The city intends this as a compromise between upset residents and the requirements of a $1.4 million federal grant for a safety-improvement project on Alabama, from Cornwall Avenue to St. Clair Street. That stretch of Alabama was identified as having the second highest collision rate in Bellingham, behind Meridian Street.

Roosevelt residents voiced their disapproval at a public hearing in front of the City Council in April, and at an open house at Roosevelt Elementary School on May 14. They also picketed Alabama Street during the evening commute on May 28.

Among their concerns was the additional traffic that would be funneled into side streets through the traffic light at St. Paul.

"I think it would make Alabama safer, but the neighborhood would take up the slack for it," Queen Street resident Amy Bruce said at the open house.

Upon first hearing the latest proposal on Thursday, June 5, Queen Street resident Kelly Pederson said she was pleased.

"That sounds wonderful," Pederson said. "That sounds like the answer that does not throw 750 to 1,000 cars a day on (side streets)."

Pederson said that if the Public Works Department has come around to the neighborhood's point of view, she was confident the City Council would, too.

"We already had strong support of at least a few City Council members," she said.

Public Works would like the council to approve the project this month, to keep it on schedule for completion by September 2015 - a requirement of the grant.

The council will discuss the staff proposal at a committee meeting that starts at 9 a.m. Monday at City Hall, 210 Lottie St.

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhampolitics.

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