Two young men died recently as the result of a high speed collision on Hoyt Road between SW 323rd Street and SW 320th Street.
Those deaths could have been prevented if I had done more than call the city and request that they consider installing devices which would inhibit speed on Hoyt Road in that vicinity a few years ago.
We used to live four houses from Hoyt Road on SW 323rd Street, and I would worry every morning when my wife took the children to school that an irresponsible driver might come flying around that nearly blind turn and plow into her car. In order to avoid a collision on Hoyt Road, I once had to turn my car into the oncoming traffic lane when a speeding car appeared from what seemed out of the blue.
On another call to the city I made, a man from the Planning Department drove out to talk to me about why the city had to spend tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to carve out at least 20 handicap curb cuts along a quarter-mile strip that links Hoyt Road with 320th via 323rd and 43rd Place. This in an area that already has gently sloped curbs. The man from the Planning Department said the city was afraid of being sued if some handicapped person became injured as a result of crossing the street where a handicapped ramp was not provided. With two dead, I think the speed inhibitor on Hoyt Road would have been a better investment.
We have since moved to the cul-de-sac at 39th Court SW, which requires that we turn onto SW 317th/SW 314th in order to exit from our neighborhood, which is my purpose for this letter.
Your plan to extend and connect SW 314th Street to a development that would give traffic a short-cut from Dash Point Road to SW 320th would create more problems than it would solve. This time, rather that making a simple telephone call to the city, I am submitting my thoughts in writing. My voice was not heard before and two young men died; they would still be alive if the speed inhibitors I envisioned were installed years ago.
Those who live on or near the single winding street formed by 42nd Avenue SW, SW 317th Street, and SW 314th are aware of the potential hazards that increased traffic would inflict upon our neighborhood.
The street is not wide enough to allow for constant traffic. As it is now, people are respectful and pull to the side of the road to allow opposing traffic to pass when one car is parked on one side of the road. When there are gatherings at one of the homes and cars are parked on both sides of 314th/317th streets, it is necessary to slow down to a near crawl to give way to oncoming traffic.
I suggest that you and your crew park cars on both sides of the street along 314th/317th and simulate a simple drive through the neighborhood, particularly at the choke points created by the bends in the road.
One of the advantages of living in a golf community is being able to drive your own golf cart to the course to play a round of golf. I see people, many being senior citizens, doing so every day and they often use SW 314th/SW 317th as part of their route. Think of the hazards created by constant traffic with transient drivers who are not accounting for the vulnerability of the many golf carts that use that street.
The section of Twin Lakes that lies north of 320th acts like a large cul-de-sac wherein only people who live there or are otherwise familiar with the area enter with the exception of service vehicles, and guests who are coming for the first time. What that creates is a population that has respect for the neighborhood and who are knowledgeable enough of the turns on the way to and from a particular residence to cut their speed. Transient traffic using SW314/SW317th to connect with 320th or Dash Point Road who are merely passing through will not be as conscious of maintaining their speed. My 13-year-old and 8-year-old children walk those sidewalks and ride bicycles on the street to visit friends, and the thought of vehicles passing at greater speeds is intolerable.
The rise on the hill on 314th as it currently drops down toward Dash Point Road is steep to the extent that it is a favorite for kids who ride their sleds when it snows. The elevation change is such that an oncoming vehicle is not visible until the very last split second in an oncoming traffic situation, the slightest miscalculation can result in an incident either with children on the street or a vehicle turning from 42nd Place onto SW 314th. The grade is also such that it would hinder larger fire and emergency vehicles accessing the area from Dash Point Road.
I was told that access for emergency vehicles from the station on Dash Point Road would be improved should SW 314th be connected to Dash Point Road. Why then is it that the emergency vehicles that serve our area that I have seen make their approach from east heading west to our community, the opposite direction that would be taken if they were coming from Dash Point Road? The majority of the emergency and police services that come to our area originate from east of us where most of the fire stations and the police department are located and the significance of those services coming to us from the Dash Point Road area are much less significant if not nil.
Providing more than one exit to our area invites criminal activity such as the burglary that took place at our home on SW 323rd a couple of years ago. SW 323rd Street turns into 43rd Place, so our street had exits to the main thoroughfares of Hoyt Road and 320th and that made our home a target to burglars who knew they had two escape routes.
Cutting an access to Dash Point Road provides criminals with another means of escape from our community.
We, like other residents, live where we do because it is a quiet area, and our property values are maintained because of that and the efforts of each resident to maintain their properties. If you make a thoroughfare of SW 317th/SW 314th, the increased traffic will serve to disturb that peace, and affect our property values which have already suffered in the current economy.
Solutions such as widening the street would only exacerbate some of the problems I have mentioned. Speed inhibiting mechanisms will not reduce the amount of traffic, therefore, criminal activity will increase as a result of the flow of transient traffic. The implementation of your plan or proposal can only result in a disintegration of the integrity of our neighborhood and create the potential for more tragedies such as the one that took the lives of two young men on Hoyt Road.
Matt Sato is a resident of Twin Lakes in Federal Way. Send comments to email@example.com.