Traffic and Other Costs of Growth
Black Diamond is a long way from Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma. These will remain the major centers for higher income jobs. Traffic will flow in and out on Highway 169, Auburn-Black Diamond Road, and Issaquah-Hobart Road. Yarrow Bay claims it is not responsible for expanding the capacity of these roads outside city limits. However, any city can require that roads into and out of town must be able to handle the additional cars before development is allowed.
It is interesting to note that neighboring Maple Valley testified that the growth in Black Diamond would negatively impact its roads. Yarrow Bay then negotiated with Maple Valley and agreed to pay some money to that city to avoid a court dispute.
Yarrow Bay is responsible for some of the past growth in Maple Valley and Covington, where traffic has gotten much worse over the last two decades. Simple traffic signal fixes took years. The cost was borne by the region, not the developers or the new homeowners.
Within Black Diamond city limits, there are only single lane roads. The additional traffic within the city as people drive to and from the developments will overwhelm these roads. Traffic “improvements” planned (but not necessarily paid for) by the developer will include traffic lights and turn lanes. Some residents are sad when they think of the prospect of Black Diamond’s first traffic light. Others angrily anticipate the eminent domain of individual’s properties that will likely occur when roads need to be widened.
County and Regional Planning
Are there more logical places for growth that would work better with existing transportation infrastructure? Places that would allow for less expensive and more logical future transit solutions? Yes. In fact, we paid for the studies. Our taxes fund a Puget Sound Regional Growth Plan. This plan targeted:
- Just 1900 homes in Black Diamond. Even this number was set by past work by developers in the 90’s to get an expansion of the county urban area to include additional land around Black Diamond (see the Black Diamond Urban Growth Area Agreement).
- No improvements for Highway 169 or county roads into and out of Black Diamond.