Mill Creek group proposes roundabouts to deal with growth

MILL CREEK — A group of Mill Creek residents fed up with noise and traffic are asking the city to build roundabouts on Seattle Hill Road.

Traffic on the two-lane road has increased dramatically over the years as sprawling developments are built on county land east of Mill Creek.

The noise from the traffic keeps people from enjoying their homes, said Chuck Wright, co-chairman of the Seattle Hill Road Citizens Advisory Group.

“The noise is so loud, I can’t even hear people talking,” Wright said. “We used to have parties in the back yard, and we can’t do that anymore.”

Mill Creek is looking at revamping Seattle Hill Road, and the advisory group worked with a city consultant to come up with plans.

One of those would be to add a series of roundabouts on the road at the intersections of Mill Creek Road, 25th Avenue SE and 32nd Avenue SE.

The roundabouts would force traffic to slow down, which would reduce noise, Mill Creek Assistant City Engineer Scott Smith said.

The city already has plans to spend about $1.5 million to install traffic signals at those three intersections. To build roundabouts would cost the city around $4 million, but roundabouts would do a better job of reducing noise, Smith said.

Wright, 63, who moved into his house along Seattle Hill Road in 1993, said the city shouldn’t base its decision on cost.

“We have to think, ‘What is our community going to look like 20 or 30 years from now?’” Wright said.

Mill Creek City Council members are planning to discuss solutions to the Seattle Hill Road problem at their meeting scheduled for Tuesday. They heard a presentation from Wright’s citizens advisory group during a study session last week.

“This is a problem for the citizens. And guess what? It’s not going to get any better,” Mill Creek Mayor Donna Michelson said. “It’s going to get worse.”

Traffic on the road has increased from about 14,000 cars per day in July 2004 to roughly 17,000 cars per day now, Smith said.

“It’s amazing the amount of growth that’s occurring out there in that eastern-county area,” he said. “I think the traffic impacts are just now starting to hit home, as the (housing) projects are finally being built and people are moving into them.”

The citizens group has also asked the City Council to consider other options to reduce traffic noise, such as repaving Seattle Hill Road with new, quieter pavement, like the kind recently used on a stretch of I-5 south of Everett. The advisory group has also suggested other measures, such as the construction of sound walls along the road and using photo-radar to curb speeding.

The group reached its proposed solutions with help from a Seattle consultant. The city paid the consultant $100,000 to work with residents and city staff to analyze the issues surrounding Seattle Hill Road.

The city has no preferred solution to reduce noise on the road, Michelson said.

Personally, Michelson said she likes the idea of adding police patrols to the road, combined with the use of photo-radar. Lowering the speed limit of the road is another option to reduce noise, she said.

Michelson also is concerned that traffic problems could arise elsewhere in Mill Creek if roundabouts or other measures suddenly deterred drivers from using Seattle Hill Road.

“This is not a one-meeting fix; this is going to be several meetings,” she said.

Wright said he’s already lived with the noise for too long. His wife can’t sleep at night without turning on soft music to drown out the sounds of traffic, he said.

He wants prompt action, but he wants a solution that will last.

“Let’s take care of the problem for way into the future,” he said.

Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or

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