Posted by: sweeneyblog | April 9, 2014

Roosevelt Neighborhood Pleads for Left Turns

Alabama St.

Alabama St.

The City Council chambers were packed with Roosevelt Neighborhood supporters voicing their objections to some of the proposed Alabama Street improvements. The city, thanks to a healthy potential grant for Alabama Street improvements, has planned a whole range of changes to our beloved main drag.

The central concern, as presented by the Public Works department, is safety. Alabama is the second most dangerous street in Bellingham (the first being the Guide-Meridian). The proposed changes would go from four lanes to three lanes and a turn lane between Iron and Dean St (after Cornwall but before you hit Trader Joes) and they would extend the two-land, one lane set up at the base of Alabama hill to Superior street. For the center section, from Trader Joes through to Woburn, they proposed a raised barrier that would prevent all left turns. This barrier is called a “c-curb”.

They also planned to install more elaborate crossings, called HAWK crossings (yes, HAWK is an acronym, no it does not matter what it stands for) and improve the existing intersections to handle the extra traffic.

An example of a C-Curb

An example of a C-Curb

Roosevelt neighborhood residents seemed rather positive about all the improvements except for one. That c-curb running down the central section of Alabama was a complete non-starter. Resident after resident took the microphone and pleaded against it. They talked about how much traffic it would force onto their quiet arterials (Orleans, St. Clair, etc).

They pointed to the added time and effort it would take if they were coming from the wrong direction to drive all the way down to one end of Alabama and then all the way back just to get to their driveway. David Dopps, the president of the neighborhood association pleaded that he liked all the rest of the improvements but could not support the c-curb. Another speaker suggested that the funding possibilities were “wagging the planning department” and drive the changes rather than safety.

Several residents raised the issue that this sort of improvement bisects their neighborhood, dividing their community and giving the impression of a busy highway rather than a neighborhood road.

HAWK Crossings

HAWK Crossings

Roosevelt has been a bit of a red-headed stepchild of our network of neighborhoods. It has a large rental population so there are fewer long-term residents of the neighborhood and it has a lower average income than Sunnyland or Barkley. However, the neighborhood still showed up in force to push back against such a drastic change to their community, and it appears they made an impact.

The council made no decision that night and will consider these improvements during a work session on the 21st but I spoke with Gene Knutson and he said that the c-curb is “dead on arrival”.



  1. Gotta say the C-curb is really helping Meridian traffic. It’s a far more appropriate place to put it. Alabama seems like an odd place to put it. Did not know it was that dangerous. Nice report, Riley–good follow-up, too.

  2. Great report, Riley. Thank you. One minor correction though. The change from the Central Alabama plan to the Eastern Alabama plan happens at Superior Street, not St. Clair.

  3. Thank you for reporting on this! Roosevelt really does not support the c-curb. Putting a little freeway in our neighborhood is not okay. We hope our elected officials are listening to us.

  4. I went to all the meetings concerning this, decided that this whole project was controlled by the local bikers (and was going to happen no how much outrage there was) and decided to move to Barkley from the Alabama Hill area. Problem solved-for me.

    Bikers: enjoy your pedal up Alabama Hill.

  5. The city’s own accident data shows that most collisions occur at controlled intersections, those with traffic signals. There are far fewer accidents between those intersections in the part of Alabama that the city wants to obstruct with it’s lovely “C-Curb”. That part of the proposal is a solution in search of a problem.

  6. The accident data are on page 12 of the Powerpoint presentation.

  7. Than you, Riley. There is one important detail you got wrong, though. The only place getting the full “road diet” (one lane each direction, bike lanes, and central two way left turn lane) is the section WEST of James Street. The section east of Superior doesn’t get “the same” treatment, just an extension of the configuration that currently exists coming down the hill (two lanes eastbound, turning lane, one lane westbound, and NO bike lanes). Yes this is better than the c-curb section, but still no buffer between traffic and sidewalks, and still two eastbound lanes/one westbound.

    • That is an important clarification – I will add that in.

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  9. Greetings! Veryy useful advice in this particular article!It is the litttle changes that will make the largest changes.
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  10. […] Roosevelt Neighborhood (myself included) are still up in arms about the proposed C-Curb to be installed on Alabama street. After the tense city council meeting where over 100 residents […]

  11. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this
    post was good. I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  12. […] 85 neighbors attended, waving signs to draw attention to the city’s efforts to put a barricade down the middle of Alabama, preventing almost all left turns. The good people at Center for New Media were there capturing footage and should come out with a […]

  13. The city is ramming this down the throats of the residents no matter what-the want the Federal bucks.

  14. Direct from the call center?

    • Spam, I try and nuked them when I see them.

  15. Why is it that the majority of the comments to this issue sound like they’re coming from people who have no interest in the actual topic and for whom English is a second language? I don’t know that much about how internet ranking works, but it almost sounds as though these people are only commenting so their SEO rankings increase. Is this true?

    • It is spam – I try to catch them as soon as I can.

  16. Oh geeze. Had no idea blogs could receive spam. What a drag to have to manage!

  17. Is Walter Haugen at it again?

  18. Cease and desist.

  19. Are you SPAMMING Riley? 😦

  20. […] (documented here and here) and ran afoul of the Roosevelt neighborhood association this year with their attempts to implement a c-curb on Alabama street. So I can understand them being a little touchy. I’m just using their budget as an example […]

  21. […] Roosevelt Neighborhood Opposes C-Curb on Alabama Street. Hundreds of Roosevelt neighborhood residents rallied at a neighborhood meeting, protested on the […]

  22. […] but she has also faced some public criticism for closed door negotiations (see Costco Expansion), fights with the Roosevelt neighborhood over drastic traffic changes, and most disappointingly to me, the mishandling of Public Access […]

  23. […] been marked by some dramatic movement on the Port, but also some sharp criticism over her struggles with the Roosevelt neighborhood, her support for Peacehealth’s $1.2 million tax exemption, and most recently, her proposed […]

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