Traffic noise on Seattle Hill Road has reached the point where some residents — including a former state senator — are organizing and planning to take action.
Four residents of the Mill Run condominium complex have come together and plan to stay involved as the city of Mill Creek hires an outside consultant to study traffic noise, flow and patterns on Seattle Hill Road to come up with suggestions for alleviating the noise problem.
Among them is a familiar name in state politics — Dave Schmidt.
Schmidt, a Republican who lost his state senate seat in November to Steve Hobbs, lives in a condominium that faces Seattle Hill Road.
“There’s road noise constantly,” Schmidt said. “Upstairs is where we hear it the most. Downstairs it’s muffled by the shrubs, but if I step out onto the patio, it’s very noisy.”
Penny Lorenz organized the Mill Run group by going door-to-door among residents whose homes back up to Seattle Hill Road. The complex is on the corner of Seattle Hill Road and Village Green Drive.
“The people who are backed up to the road really hear (the noise),” Lorenz said.
Noise levels on the road are, during rush hours, consistently at decibel levels that are classified as very loud by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. City public works manager Tim Burns said Seattle Hill Road traffic noise is the top complaint the department receives from residents.
“It’s just constant traffic,” said Lorenz, whose home faces the road. “There’s only one quiet time and that’s between 2 and 4 a.m. We get the boom boxes going by, and the big trucks. With all the building going on to the east, we’re getting more trucks.”
Seattle Hill Road has become busier in recent years thanks to extensive residential growth east of the city, and the two-lane road has become a main east-west arterial for residents living east of 35th Avenue Southeast who need to get to-and-from Bothell-Everett Highway and Interstate 5.
“There’s no way I can use my patio or the deck off my bedroom,” Lorenz said. “I can’t hear myself think.”
Residents who live along the road say the traffic noise disrupts their sleep, usually starting around 5 a.m. Lorenz says on Friday and Saturday nights the noise continues until midnight.
“The noise may wake you up in the middle of the night,” Schmidt said. “If a big truck comes up the hill or a Harley motorcycle, that will wake you up.”
Lorenz said she had plenty of success when she took a petition door-to-door in the part of Mill Run facing the road. The petition was later taken to city hall, she said, but she said the city rejected their proposals, which included lowering the speed limit and building a sound wall.
Those options, however, may be recommended by engineering consultants the city will hire to study the road’s traffic patterns, with the aim of finding some ways to mitigate the noise.
A city memo earlier this year said that possible solutions could include buffer landscaping, sound walls, traffic calming devices and widening the road.
Whatever solutions are proposed, Lorenz’s group plans to be involved. They plan to attend the city council meeting next month when the consultant contract is awarded.
At this time, the group doesn’t have a strategy, Lorenz said.
“We’re waiting to see what the study comes up with,” she said. “We think it’s important to keep our wishes known to the city.”