Word Nerd

Road closures may have unintended consequences

The city of Sunnyside and Sunnyside police are considering closing a couple of roads in my area of town.

And I'm not talking about the temporary "there's a parade!" closures that most people don't mind. I mean the permanent closure of two streets that many of us use every day, including one I commute on every weekday. In fact, both the closures in question affect me a little.

The first proposed closure would shut down South Hill Road between Fourth Street and Saul Road. The reasoning for this closure will not escape anyone who has driven the route. It's a narrow neighborhood roadway with no sidewalks, connected to an equally narrow section of Saul Road. People use it as a shortcut to reach westbound I-82. And many of the folks who drive it don't pay attention to speed limit laws.

I'll admit, I've used it as a shortcut, but I feel uneasy doing so. It's clearly not designed as a through road. So, while it may take a little longer to go around, I don't really mind the closure.

The other closure, however, actually annoys me. This one would close 13th Street between Lincoln Avenue and South Street. The reasoning behind it is that too many people use 13th and South as a shortcut to avoid the stoplight at the intersection at Lincoln Avenue and 16th Street.

The section of 13th Street between Lincoln and Ida Belle Street is again a neighborhood road without sidewalks, not designed for the amount of traffic flowing on it. And, again, people ignore the speed limit and drive far too fast for conditions there.

But south of Ida Belle, the road is a little broader and there is a sidewalk. If I had my druthers, 13th would be closed north of Ida Belle so I could still get to downtown easily.

I live in the Aho development, and if 13th is closed south of Ida Belle, I will have to make a left turn onto the Sunnyside-Mabton Road every morning.

Having lived in Seattle a few years too many, I have a deep aversion to any left turns onto a busy street without a light or stop sign. And, Sunnyside-Mabton Road is bound to get busier if 13th is closed as planned.

These closures are in no way final, both of them are still being studied, with data being collected each week, and discussed at city council meetings. I just ask that those involved in this decision consider possible unintended consequences.

And I hope that folks in the affected neighborhoods are paying attention.


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