Concerns about Eastsound Roads | Letter

Editor’s note: The Orcas Island School District is not moving ahead with a one-way street at the school at this time. An interim plan is to redirect traffic congestion at the drop-off area. If that doesn’t work, then the school district will explore the possibility of a one-way road.

We have recently been told that the San Juan County Government plans to re-align and even partially close our Eastsound streets in the vicinity of the Orcas Island School District Campus. The San Juan County Council appears to be concerned that traffic flow on School Road presents a hazard to students’ safety. One need only take a look at the existing configuration of traffic approach, student drop-off and parking in FRONT of the school on School Road to agree that what was created in the past at the school is poorly designed and perhaps unsafe.

The new county plan as presented appears to MOVE problems to surrounding streets. The plan is to funnel traffic one way on School Road (west), and the upper block of Madrona Street (north), which would undoubtedly create congestion along Rose Street and the remainder of Madrona Street.

Safety is certainly of prime importance, not only for students but for all pedestrians, several of whom, like us, are called elderly. The streets mentioned above have an obvious lack of sidewalks, resulting in hazardous walking conditions. Yet they are the location of business establishments (the library, vet clinic and dental clinic to name three) as well as homes, all of which could be impacted by the planned reconfiguration.

Unfortunately, there has been little public discussion; this new plan comes as a complete surprise to the residents and business owners along Madrona and Rose Streets. Because the planned changes would take place on deeded public right of way thoroughfares belonging to the public, we would expect that studies regarding vehicle speeds and the impact of the changes of road alignment as well as the serious safety issues regarding lack of sidewalks and curbs be conducted. These studies should be conducted before any changes are rushed through. Let’s not have a repeat of the recent “road straightening” project which caused so much controversy.

Susan Mustard, Peg Nicol, Marsha Wiener