Candidate Question - Traffic
Question: What action will you take as councilmember/mayor to help address growing concerns about traffic in Liberty Lake?

Candidate Question: Traffic Concerns

in Candidate Corner/Candidate Questions/Featured/Government and Politics/Traffic and Roads

The Liberty Lake Gazette asked all 10 candidates the following question at the same time via email. The candidate responses are in the order they replied. Click on a candidate name to view their full profile.

What action will you take as councilmember/mayor to help address growing concerns about traffic in Liberty Lake?

Holly Woodruff campaign photo
Holly Woodruff

I’d like to see what traffic looks like once the Harvard Rd. bridge/Henry Rd. overpass are done to see how those projects impact traffic flow. I’m a fan of roundabouts and I’d look to see where additional roundabouts might help with traffic flow. Country Vista in the area of Home Depot and the new high school will have to be addressed, most likely with traffic signals. I want to balance the traffic needs of our growing city with responsible fiscal management – street improvements and construction are expensive. I want to work with the Spokane Transit Authority to see how we can increase bus ridership. The worst traffic issues are at rush hour, when workers are coming into Liberty Lake in the morning and residents are leaving Liberty Lake to go to work, then reverse that for the evening rush hour. The DASH pilot program with STA will give us more of an idea of what needs to happen to get more people on a bus. Personally, I love the buses and ride them whenever possible to avoid driving downtown or to the west side. Our taxes support the buses and keep the fares low – right now, just $2.00 one way and you can get a transfer with that, and only $1.00 for seniors and others with the proper ID. Monthly passes are cheap as well. Traffic issues may seem like a headache, but in reality it’s a good problem to have. It means our community is growing and thriving.

What action will you take as councilmember/mayor to help address growing concerns about traffic in Liberty Lake?

Bob Moore campaign photo
Bob Moore

City Council and the City Administration needs to do a better job of communicating to the public the processes used to address transportation issues, both existing and projected. Public input is an important aspect of effective transportation management and public safety, and I encourage all to contact the City or City Council members with any specific concerns.

Liberty Lake is one of the fastest growing communities in the State of Washington and presently has about 11,000 residents, with projections of approximately 18,000 at total buildout. In addition, there are approximately 10,000 commuters that enter and exit Liberty lake each day to work and/or shop, and play in the City.

It is unrealistic to propose that we can solve any traffic problems or concerns by stopping growth, commuting, or economic development within the City.

The City and the Council have taken a proactive approach to transportation management, including both private and public transportation:

  1. Established Levels of Service (LOS) which sets a quantitative standard for the operating characteristics of the transportation system as required under the Growth Management Act for all arterials and transit routes.
  2. Contracted for a Transportation Network Analysis (Traffic Study) conducted by an independent traffic engineering firm that measured traffic volumes at major intersections at AM and PM peak hours.
  3. Developed and adopted the Six Year Transportation Improvements Plan (TIP) as required by the Growth Management Act to identify specific maintenance and capital projects approved for completion including estimated funding costs.
  4. Developed and adopted a Strategic Plan for the City which facilitates the prioritization and funding for all capital projects through the budgeting process.
  5. Partnered with the Central Valley School District, Spokane Valley Fire Department, and the Liberty Lake Police Department to hire Olympia lobbyists, which resulted in obtaining $20.9 million in Washington State Department of Transportation funds for the Harvard/Henry Road projects.

In summary, this is a process of identifying specific traffic and public safety problem areas, estimating corrective project costs, prioritizing projects and funding resources, and developing a master scheduling and implementation plan. This is a logical and rational approach to “concerns about traffic” in Liberty Lake and is the process that I will continue to support if I am re-elected to City Council in November.

What action will you take as councilmember/mayor to help address growing concerns about traffic in Liberty Lake?

Four key elements of my transportation planning are Efficient, Safe, Well-maintained and that Leveraged Revenue is used for making our streets complete. Successful transportation planning is looking forward to what are the needs to be met in 3, 5 or 10 years. Therefore, I am very proud of our accomplishments in maintaining and growing our transportation network in the City.

Rebuilding Harvard Road in 2002 and building the Pedestrian Bridge in 2003 which enhanced our trail system was a huge task for our new city but we got it done. In 2006 we began planning for Henry Road and greater connection to the northside of our city. In 2015, my leadership helped to secure funding for Barker, Henry and Harvard in the Connect Washington Legislation scheduled for 2029. During the 2019 session, my work in conjunction with our partners, made it possible to have it moved forward from 2029 so we can begin construction in the 2019-2020 construction season. In 2012, my road map for our streets to maintain and enhance their life span was begun. By using your utility tax funds exclusive to streets and for match money, we have built 3 roundabouts, rebuilt Liberty Lake Road, Appleway, overlaid Molter, overlaid Valleyway, resurfaced the Heights area, and created new stop lights at Signal and soon Madson intersections. In 2019 we received TIB funding for Liberty Lake Road south of Country Vista to be reconstructed.

On the northside of our city, Mission Avenue which serves Selkirk Middle school and Orchard Park will be improved with a complete design and rebuild which fixes the sections of old County road and bring it up to the standards of the rest of our major arterials. We will also see the Indiana Avenue corridor completed and a signal light at its intersection with Harvard Road.

We’re currently completing the update to our 2017 traffic study which will be finalized in 2020. It will reflect impacts from changes over the past 2 years and will include our new high school to ascertain how each intersection will be controlled. Which method of intersection control (Stop Light, Roundabout or Stop Sign?) will be determined once the analytics of operational flow is established reflecting car counts, school projections, neighborhoods and businesses interests so those choices we make will be in the communities’ best interest and serve us well into the future.

Creating our own street department has allowed us to have full year maintenance and operations so streets are maintained in the good weather and plowed in the bad. Hiring a new engineer Scott Bernhard, well versed in Liberty lake issues and having a terrific understanding of delivering multimillion-dollar transportation projects, has been a terrific addition to our staff. He and City Administrator Katy Allen, have begun laying out the time line of implementing the Harvard to Barker corridor project with WSDOT.

Transportation in today’s world is also multi-faceted. No longer are we just focused on roads and streets, we must consider sidewalks, trails, bike lanes, lighting, crosswalks , pedestrian safety and cameras for the synchronization of traffic lights to make a complete street. My vision is to make sure this is continually carried out in our planning and construction as we grow into the future.

Finally, realizing the importance of being involved regionally with other cities in 2012, I was able to make sure that Liberty Lake had permanent representation on the Spokane Regional Transportation Council Board. My peers recognized my contribution on three separate occasions by electing me the Chair or Vice Chair of that Board.

To my community, the past is prologue to the future and it continues to be my goal that the city has excellent roads and alternate transportation amenities. Only one more reason Liberty Lake is considered Spokane County’s Premier address.

What action will you take as councilmember/mayor to help address growing concerns about traffic in Liberty Lake?

Phil Folyer campaign photo
Phil Folyer

High peak traffic usage is a real problem. Currently, the City of Liberty Lake is in the process of several improvements to resolve the situation. The Harvard bridge outbound lane, Henry Road overpass and the Barker roundabout interchange are all vital to the cities success of dealing with traffic. As a council member, I will support these projects 100% and be prepared to engage in the discussion when appropriate. Even though the Barker roundabout is not within the city limits, it does provide alternate freeway access for residents, business & 2 new schools. Going forward, my focus will be on 2 items of importance. Future planning to accommodate our growing city needs to be a top priority. Traffic studies and engineers are great sources of information. I believe a council member should do the homework and come prepared when having important discussions regarding future transportation needs of the city. My 2nd item of importance is maintenance of the existing infrastructure to include trail systems. The best way to approach maintenance is to be consistent as you would with any asset. Prioritize the needs, produce a short-term & long-term plan, identify and adopt a budget, then execute on time and within budget. Something that few cities do is review the results after execution. Ask ourselves if the improvement meet our goals and how might we improve going forward. This is the approach I would have as a city council member. My background in construction goes hand in hand with with this topic and I intend to bring my experience to the table for the benefit of this city.

What action will you take as councilmember/mayor to help address growing concerns about traffic in Liberty Lake?

Dg Garcia campaign photo
DG Garcia

The importance of the conversations relating to traffic in Liberty Lake centers on the impact and overall health of the community, and the foreseeable adverse effects on our quality of life, should nothing change.

It is essential to note that various issues affecting the community are experienced differently by its citizens and while someone may not have a current issue that is traffic related, there may be other areas that impact them depending on their personal view. However, what impacts one individual today during their commute may eventually have an impact on someone else who has not yet considered the consequences. That is why citizen input is essential to every policy-decision.

In the case of traffic gridlock and congestion, we become frustrated while waiting in our cars to move on to our destination. Sometimes that frustration filters its way into our personal lives and the lives of others. Eliminating stress by improving our traffic infrastructure, is critical to a vibrant and robust community. Our quality of life is always at stake when traffic infrastructure cannot keep up with efforts that increase our community’s footprint, which must keep pace with growth.

Liberty Lake has several traffic-related issues in its pipeline. For instance, widening areas, roundabouts, frontage improvements, modifications, surfacing, traffic signals, road restriping, and other buildouts in the region that contribute to the conversations. What was once an enjoyable drive can turn into a nightmare in some areas of the city.

Liberty Lake’s policy-makers, staff, engineers, and expert consultants are working towards practical ways to improve the traffic infrastructure conditions. But these things take time.

Question:  What action will you take as councilmember/mayor to help address growing concerns about traffic in Liberty Lake?

I most certainly would:

  1. Encourage community participation – as it remains a top priority for our quality of life.
  2. Ensure proper funding is available, and all financing contingencies are accounted for if necessary and or required.
  3. Educate and inform the community on EVERY ASPECT of what it takes to make improvements to our transportation infrastructure—have more meetings if necessary, leave no stone unturned.
  4. Ensure that new development includes cutting-edge traffic and transportation technology—forecasting—stay ready, proactive, not reactive.
  5. Continue to review the entire comprehensive plan (prior and current) as it relates to the whole of Liberty Lake’s roadways and traffic corridors.
  6. Continue to advocate for additional express bus routes and pick up locations so that more residents can participate in the service.
  7. Continue to partner with WSDOT and our regional partner cities.
  8. Continue to think out of the box on innovative ways for improvement.

There are constructive ways to improve traffic flow and alleviate congestion. Eliminating the negative impact on our overall health, our general welfare, and our Quality of Life should be the goal.

What action will you take as councilmember/mayor to help address growing concerns about traffic in Liberty Lake?

Shane Brickner

My priority is making sure our traffic plan evolves with our community, keeping traffic flow as safe and efficient as possible. We need a Mayor who listens to traffic experts when it comes to making traffic revisions, like the addition of traffic lights and roundabouts, to make these changes cost effective. We need to have a proactive, long term strategic financial plan supported by up-to-date traffic studies and expert advice so that we are preparing for the future, not just reacting to immediate issues as they arise.

Traffic Priorities Include:

  • Street lights and pedestrian crossings on thoroughfares to improve pedestrian safety.
  • Traffic lights in the necessary locations, like the intersection of Legacy Ridge and Country Vista.
  • Connecting our residents in the River District to the rest of our city by building out the Mission area with sidewalks and bike lanes.
  • Cohesively working together with our neighboring cities, along with DOT to complete the Harvard / Henry overpass project.
  • Build on our relationship with Spokane Transit Authority to bring improvements like the recently announced DASH route from the Park and Ride through the business district to give the option to commuters to ride the bus to and from work.

What action will you take as councilmember/mayor to help address growing concerns about traffic in Liberty Lake?

Cris Kaminskas campaign photo
Cris Kaminskas
Traffic is the first issue that everyone associates with growth – and we are growing fast. We can’t slow down the growth, but we can plan for and manage the infrastructure needed to handle the traffic that comes with it.

All 34 of the City’s Transportation policies can be found in the 2015-2037 Comprehensive Plan on the City’s website. I promise to not bore you with them here, but it is actually a very interesting read for those wanting to better educate themselves.—2037

Of course, funding is always the largest roadblock to improving infrastructure. Liberty Lake is lucky to have several funding sources in place to deal with infrastructure related to growth and traffic.

  • In 1996, developers stepped up and launched a self-imposed fee to fund the Harvard Road Mitigation Fund. This is basically an impact fee paid to the City based on a study of the impacts of development or the delivery of services and must be used for capital facilities needed by growth.
  • Residents and businesses pay a 3% utility tax on certain services which contributes approximately $850,000 per year towards street preservation.
  • The City has been very successful in using this money as matching funds for projects such as roundabouts, traffic signals, street rebuilding, etc.
  • The Transportation Improvement Board, which is funded by gas taxes, has awarded numerous grants to Liberty Lake that, on average, provided over 70 percent of the funding for those projects.
  • Tax Increment Financing and the Local Infrastructure Financing Tool have also been great tools to provide financing for infrastructure projects north of I-90 in the River District. The City can use tax revenue generated by private investment to pay for infrastructure improvements. Funds up to $1M per year are matched 100% by the State.

There are many high-profile projects scheduled to be completed or started in the next four years. All of these play an important role in improving circulation in our city. Most of these projects will be completed through partnerships with other agencies (developers, school district, WSDOT). It is important to maintain those relationships and project history knowledge that already exists on the council.

  • Harvard Road bridge widening over I-90
  • Safety improvements to the westbound on ramp from Harvard to I-90
  • Construction of an overpass from Kramer Parkway to Mission over I-90 to improve north/south connections within the City.
  • Completion of Indiana Avenue from the River District to Harvard (including traffic control at Harvard)
  • Additional traffic control on the Country Vista/Appleway corridor from Legacy Ridge west.
  • Rebuild of Mission in the River District from Harvest Parkway going east.

So, what can I personally do to help address concerns?

I will continue to be an active member of the community to keep consistent and transparent dialogue going with our residents. Whether that be through social media, personal meetings, neighborhood meetings, or by continuing my weekend presence at the Farmer’s Market in the summer, people will know what is going on and will know that their concerns are being listened to.

Over nine years of service to our community as a council member provides me with a wealth of information and history to share with council, the staff, and our residents. There have been a lot of lessons that the council and staff have learned over the years. The perspectives and experience that I have gained over that time are important assets to keep.

No response: Dan Dunne, Annie Kurtz, Tom Stanley

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