Traffic problems at 51st & 152nd, parking study get SeaTac City Council attention

By Jack Mayne

‘Traffic calming’ is the term engineers use when they want to stop motorists from using side streets or whizzing by so fast as to endanger residents of a neighborhood, and two such events were before the SeaTac City Council on Tuesday (June 13).

One problem was outlined by Frank Leyritz, a 51st Avenue resident, who told Council he was concerned about the increase in traffic and speeds from the mall over to and down 51st Ave. South.

Leyritz said his family had owned a house on 51st since 1971 so “we are long time residents.”

Shortcut from Mall
Residents have noticed that traffic has increased on the street over the past few years, especially in late afternoons.

“We all believe the cause of this increase is due primarily from drivers coming from South 178th from Southcenter and then instead of waiting for the long traffic light … up at Military Road, many of these motorists make a rush hour shortcut” and speed up 51st. There is a rush hour prohibition on left turns during the business week, he said.

He said SeaTac Police have said they don’t have the staff available to write all the tickets it would take, so he wants the city to consider putting in speed bumps.

City Manager Joe Scorcio said all Councilmembers have a memo that the city is proceeding forthwith with “traffic calming” on 51st and that the residents of the area have been cooperative with the city efforts.

Regarding speed bumps, Deputy Mayor Pam Fernald said speed bumps need to be checked with the fire department, as there had been concerns about emergency vehicles traveling over such “traffic calming” solutions. She added that speed bumps “are pretty drastic,” but she told residents of 51st that “I understand your pain,” and people speed all over and the city could have speed bumps everywhere. She would prefer police enforcement first.

Military Road problem
The Council in study session Tuesday took up the legally required annual review and adoption of a transportation improvement program.

City Engineer Florendo Cabudol said the city was applying for various grants for transportation projects.

One of the projects proposed and previously approved by Council is a redesign of Military Road between International Boulevard and 152nd street with a mid-block crosswalk that Deputy Mayor Pam Fernald said she has been pushing for 10 years, and hopes it will be “done before I die.”

Cabudol said he hoped it would be and that planning now is for the project to begin in 2018 or “more realistically in 2019.”

“It’s so close, yet so far,” Fernald said.

Cabudol said the message is clear about the need for the mid-block crosswalk and will consider ways to move that part of the project forward.

Fernald said people for years have been crossing the street mid-block, holding up their hands for people to stop.

“That is just crazy,” she said.

Parking study
The Council gave final approval to authorize the City Manager to sign off on up to $110,000 in a professional services contract with Transpo Group for the study and design of a city’s permit.

The longstanding issue was again opposed by Mayor Michael Siefkes, who believes the cost of parking solutions can be negotiated in an interlocal agreement (usually called an “ILA”) with the Port of Seattle and the airport, but other members believed the city’s parking problem goes beyond just airport users and the hundreds of people working there who commute from all over the metro area.

The city staff said the study is being developed “in response for the need to manage increased demand for on-street parking and its related community impacts in SeaTac.”

It would address concerns about “on-street parking involving safety, commercial/for hire vehicle parking in neighborhoods, and littering that have been documented in numerous community meetings since 2013.”

The mayor was the sole opponent in a voice vote.

New website; phone problems
Scorcio told the Council that on Monday (June 12), the city replaced their website with a new design.

“We went live on Monday morning with very few glitches … not only visually, the fact is that it is easier to navigate,” he said. The site is at

Scorcio said the site will be updated further to make it a “more robust page” but it is now quicker than before and does include some additional features.

He said the city has been having problems with phone calls – one day not receiving incoming calls, and another day no outgoing calls could be made.

It is not the city’s equipment, but that of the provider, but the situation is fixed.

Scorcio also said the state Legislature has yet to come up with an agreement on a biennial budget and, if they don’t by July 1, the state could shut down all but emergency services.

“It shouldn’t affect any of our programs … key services don’t shutdown.”

But the city is watching the situation.

He also said there are a number of vacancies on various city boards and commissions and the Council was increasing memberships on some boards, so applications are open and are available on “our brand new website.”

Contracts and demolition
Council also voted to give preliminary approval for a contract to demolish old fire station that was replaced by a new facility.

Demolition was decided after the city determined the cost to upgrade the existing building for other possible uses was too high and decided it should be demolished. All reusable items in the facility and the fuel tanks were removed.

The low bidder for the work is Fresh Property Management with a $135,000 bid, said Facilities Manager Brian Ruda.

Council also gave preliminary approval for a contract with Bruce Dees and Associates to design the fourth multi-purpose field at Valley Ridge Park and replacing the synthetic turf at fields on the other three.

Council gave primary approval of a professional services contract for $136,000 with Transpo Group for the development of a plan to bring the city into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Assistant City Engineer Janet Mayer said SeaTac was a bit behind surrounding communities in surveying problems of those with a variety of disabilities and in response to Councilmember Peter Kwon said the reason the study has not been done sooner, Mayer said “probably the cost” of the extensive study.

He also said there are a number of vacancies on various city boards and commissions and the Council was increasing memberships on some boards, so applications are open and are available on “our brand new website.”

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