Posted by: sweeneyblog | June 6, 2014

City Staff Recommends Partial C-Curb to City Council

In response to the hundreds of Roosevelt neighbors who spoke out at the public meeting on May 14th, and protested on May 28th, city staff has changed their recommendation to council. Instead of blocking off the entire length of Alabama, they just want to install the c-curb on half of it. Here is where the c-curb would be placed in their original proposal:

Original Proposal

Original Proposal

Here is what they are now recommending to the City Council:

Current proposal

Current Proposal

For more details, check out the full write up of the staff recommendation here. In their recommendation, city staff dismisses Roosevelt neighborhood complaints as “not addressing the root of the problem.” Staff reduces their objections as “residents whose access from Alabama Street would be negatively affected by left-turn restrictions” and makes no mention of the repeated call by the neighborhood for reduced speeds on Alabama and the dangers of the c-curb pushing traffic onto the parallel streets like E. North, and E. Maryland.

You can bypass the staff’s characterizations altogether and hear neighbors objections directly thanks to the hard work of Olivia Tokola with Center for New Media. They filmed interviews with the c-curb protesters into a short piece available here:


Come to the Bellingham City Council meeting, June 9th at 7 p.m. and speak out about this issue with your thoughts and perspective.



  1. “they just want to install the c-curb on half of it”.

    Kinda like being “half-pregnant, eh!

  2. The compromise looks reasonable and responsive to resident concerns by eliminating more than half of the blockage but still presumably keeping the blockage in areas that are the most dangerous.

    • Reasonable to you, unreasonable to me.

  3. It looks like an excellent compromise! Congratulations. Now you get to keep pushing as a neighborhood for infrastructure that will slow traffic and create safer pedestrian crossings. And when the dust settles, neighbors have gotten to know one another and have a sense of “all for one and one for all” that will carry on into the future. Mazel Tov!

  4. Classic political move to reduce the number of NIMBY “No” votes so that the same strength of evil occurs, but to less total individuals, so they don’t add up to enough political pressure.

    The much better thing would be to find a non evil way to reduce the bad traffic problems, in a way that does not ruin the life of any stretch of Alabama related neighborhoods.

  5. Why is it that neighborhood groups are not consulted in the first place and require them to make a significant effort just to be heard? The irresponsible planning and development in our community and the over powering access that a few ‘developers’ have to city hall is a huge problem. If you want to know who is really in charge just look at the Public Disclosure information about who donates to the political campaigns of elected officials, especially the Mayor. Developers build more homes than are reasonable and soon the traffic impacts for everyone are greater and then we have to make compromises in safety and have the very real impacts of lower home values because a few elected folks and the staff that work for them have allowed more development than is reasonable. They basically privatize the profit of development projects and socialize the human and financial costs to others in the community. Interestingly the traffic consultant that the city often uses is the same traffic consultant that developers often use. Amazing coincidence isn’t it.

    • Frank – you do know that almost all of the Roosevelt neighborhood is zoned for multi-family. The city is counting on most of those homes to be torn down and replaced with more of the stuff that lines Texas Street. Yeah for us and can you imagine what Alabama will be like when that happens?

  6. Also, here’s the letter I sent to Council. Didn’t hear anything back and I haven’t seen any new data yet…

    Dear Council,

    “About 50 Roosevelt neighbors attended a “community conversation” about Alabama Street, but the city and the residents appeared to be talking past each other.” – Ralph Schwartz reports on Alabama Street community conversation session. Ralph also mentioned he was told that city staff is going to “provide different data” and that the “consultant erred by showing numbers of accidents”.

    The very first time I testified at a public meeting was about 25 years ago when the City was trying to decide whether to install the roundabouts on Ellis Street between Alabama and Sunset Drive. I have avoided commenting on the Alabama street corridor proposal because I didn’t really think it would make a difference, or was necessary; at a debate just 9 months ago, Council person Knutson said he would lay down in the middle of Alabama, Bob Burr style, before he let Alabama be put on a “road diet”. However, after speaking with many people about the issue, I would like to provide you with a few of my thoughts. I would like to see the new or different data that will be coming out soon…

    We know that the lighted intersections are where the most injury accidents are occurring. It is abundantly clear that the turn lanes at the lighted intersections are not long enough for storage during red lights. For multiple hours per day, lanes fill up at each red light and cause the inside through lane to be blocked. You then have people driving around the backed up turning cars to get through and often you will see cars backed up past the turn lane or driving the wrong direction in the oncoming lane so that they will not miss the left turn arrow light, or risking a turn during a very late yellow and, oftentimes, after the arrow turns red. Nobody likes to miss a green arrow at the lighted intersections on Alabama because it takes what feels like eons for it to come back to the turn lane again. It is the same problem when turning from Woburn on to Alabama, Orleans on to Alabama, Alabama to Orleans, Alabama to James, and James to Alabama.

    I would also ask you to recall the problems at Barkley Boulevard before it was improved at Woburn street. The configuration was a two lane street with bicycle lanes, and a center turn lane along the entire length. This configuration was the perfect example of a traffic planning disaster. Trying to go through or turn from eastbound Barkley on to southbound Woburn was an exercise in futility with cars backed up 3 sets of lights at times. What a nightmare that was! Of course, the problem was so severe that a large portion of Barkley recently had to be reconstructed with an extra lane and the results are nothing short of spectacular. Because of the change and dramatic improvement, I would almost prefer to take this route home over some of the alternatives, if the turn from Woburn on to Alabama wasn’t so awful. The configuration on Barkley, before it was improved, is close to what Alabama would be like if the road diet was to be implemented. Also, please do not forget the additional traffic that will be added as Barkley Village adds the 1,021 new units the land capacity analysis shows are planned for the area into the transportation mix.

    Second, I would like to propose you use a proven idea for pull outs for WTA as the current situation with busses blocking one lane is clearly the cause for many lane change accidents despite the extreme care and caution our excellent WTA drivers use when driving on Alabama. The fix I am referring to is the pull out that was installed at the intersection on Lakeway and Lincoln – a “queue jump and bypass lane”. The improvement has been absolutely wonderful for that oh-so-busy intersection and would provide much needed relief for Alabama street with the important reduction of the need for two lanes worth of traffic to merge into one lane every time a bus stops at one of the stops on Alabama. It would, without a doubt, reduce collisions on Alabama. Because the pullouts could be located at lighted intersections with pedestrian safety features, they could reduce the need for people to cross at random locations along Alabama street. A second option, that is perhaps a little bit out of the box, is if we absolutely must have a bus stop at a non lighted portion of Alabama, we could identify low use streets and to modify those intersections so that the pull out is actually the side street itself. Done in conjunction with some of the planned for pedestrian crosswalks, you will utilize “low return” pavement for a second important use while increasing pedestrian crossing safety and delaying through traffic as little as possible.

    I hope you find my comments helpful and I think that if we all stop talking past each other, take a step back, reset, cool down, look at the new data that will be coming forward, and attack the accident problem on Alabama Street with a “yes we can” attitude, we will find a solution that doesn’t take us backward to a Barkley Blvd/Woburn situation or damage our neighborhoods in the process.

    Clayton Petree

  7. […] showed up to testify about the c-curb, in many cases (myself included) to praise the city for their reasonable compromise that rolled out last week, which removed the center section of the c-curb from the […]

  8. Just a note: the illustration showing the new alternative recommendation doesn’t show the c-curb from Orleans to Pacific, and according to the document, it will be there, too.

  9. […] neighborhood residents rallied at a neighborhood meeting, protested on the city streets and lobbied the city council to keep a C-Curb from blocking most left turns on Alabama Street. In the end, they were partially […]

  10. If you desire to take a great deal from this paragraph then you have to apply these
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  11. […] Bellingham, the city is crawling forward with the so-called Alabama Traffic Improvements. They sent out a pamphlet to all property owners along the stretch of Alabama affected with glossy […]

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