In a nutshell: good driving, slower traffic should help
(By Heidi Zemach for SCN)
The Seward Site-Based council, an advisory group to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District made up of principals, teachers, parents, and community members recently brought a number of concerns to the City Council about the planned location of the traffic pattern for the new Electric Department warehouse, currently under construction on Sea Lion Avenue. Its members were concerned to learn that the entrance and exit directly faces the elementary school entrance on Sea Lion and would create a potentially dangerous four-way intersection, where increased traffic from industrial trucks and other city vehicles would head into traffic made up of school buses, parents transporting children to and from school, and young pedestrians or cyclers. They also were concerned with the dangers of snow berms in the area already making clear vision difficult for drivers and pedestrians along that road.
In a “laydown” to City Manager Jim Hunt, and to the City Council, dated September 19, 2013, Seward Utility Manager John Foutz summarizes the findings and solutions of a meeting held by multiple departments on the site council’s concerns. In addition to city electric and administration heads, these included representatives from the community development, public works, and Seward Police department.
First, Foutz states that the roadway and driveway designs for the workshop was engineered by a licensed civil engineer to current civil engineering specifications. Alternative entry points into the facility were analyzed but discounted due to utility conflicts and geographic challenges, he adds. They also determined that the only viable entry/exit lot to the facility was on Sea Lion Avenue because the property does not have access to any other roads on the west, east and south sides of the property.
Furthermore, the elementary school starts at 8:00 a.m. while the electric department crew starts an hour earlier, at 7:00 a.m. Also, the elementary school has approximately 110 to 120 personal vehicles, and five buses traveling through the parking lot every morning. The electric department, on the other hand, will only add four personal vehicles and four commercial trucks every morning, he said. The city electric crew is required by union contract to have and maintain a Commercial’s Driver’s License class B, which is more rigorous than the common class D license held by most Alaska drivers.
More importantly, Foutz said, the group discovered a discrepancy in the posted and required speed limit on Sea Lion Avenue. According to City Code, the required speed limit is 15 miles per hour, whereas the current limit posted at Sea Lion is 20 mph. The city will take measures to correct this oversight, he said. The oversight may not have been discovered Foutz concludes, had it not been for the concerned citizens of Seward and the direction of City Council to administration.
At Monday night’s council meeting, the specific issues and letter’s contents were not addressed, although council members did ask WC Casey, director of the public works department, to make sure snow plows take care not to allow high snow piles to block visibility for those locations along the roadway this winter. He nodded.
Asked if Foutz would be willing to speak with the site-based council, he said replied he would be happy to do so if they would let him.