Mukilteo gate offers safety, time to study other options

If the recent protests and lawsuit regarding the closure of Saint Andrews Drive is any indication of what’s in store for Mukilteo residents this year, things are headed down the wrong road.

Now is the time for citizens on both sides of the hotly debated fence to start working on a reasonable solution that protects neighbors from speeding, reckless drivers and opens the public road for responsible use by everyone.

It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago Saint Andrews Drive was a thoroughfare for more than 1,500 vehicles a day looking for a shortcut to Harbour Pointe Boulevard.

The winding, hilly road could pass for any quiet street in a newer, upper class neighborhood these days, thanks to a steel gate that blocks entrance to the drive at 116th Street SW. The closure to through traffic has brought about high-tempered protests from people in the nearby neighborhood of Wind and Tide, who argue the closure will cause serious inconveniences.

They’re right. The gate, which will be in place for a year, is definitely inconvenient. Surrounding neighbors say their travel time has doubled, even tripled. Schools buses have been re-routed and that costs money. Some argue the closure may even affect emergency vehicles trying to make it to calls.

Yet, the emergency vehicles might have been needed on Saint Andrews Drive itself soon, had the gate not been installed. Saint Andrews residents and police reported seven to 10 speeders a day — a minority, but a dangerous one. Some vandals shot out lamp posts in yards and destroyed mailboxes. Since the development opened six years ago, 30 vehicles have gone out of control and wound up on someone’s front yard. Fortunately no one was seriously injured, but that doesn’t detract from the seriousness of the situation and the potential for a tragedy. Even the installation of speed bumps hasn’t slowed down some drivers.

As Saint Andrews residents point out, they are inconvenienced by the gate, too. But it’s a price they’re willing to pay to avoid injury or worse.

Many have argued this is a case of the Mukilteo City Council giving way to the whims of a wealthy, whining neighborhood. Small town politics are often passionate, indeed. But the citizens who live in the unincorporated Wind and Tide neighborhood are hardly paupers with homes valued at $310,000 to $565,000. And the Saint Andrews neighbors coughed up the $17,000 to pay for the fence.

The closure of a public road is a serious thing to consider. So is the safety of people. Thankfully, this closure is temporary. The coming year should give everyone time to think about ways to open the road safely, rather than suing the city. As one Saint Andrews woman said, if people are so upset about it, they can use their energy to come up with a great solution.

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