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Council rescinds letter on Fauntleroy restripe

Calling Seattle’s proposal to reconfigure Fauntleroy Way S.W. a step towards making it safer and more bicycle-friendly, members of the Vashon Maury Island Community Council voted last week to rescind the council’s letter to the city opposing the road project.

On a 28 to 25 vote and after a lively debate, members asked the community council’s executive board to draft a new letter striking the one sent a few weeks ago to the city’s Department of Transportation.

“We’ve got a progressive community here. I think defending more car capacity is kind of counter to that idea,” said Henry Haselton, an avid cyclist who voted to strike the letter. “I’m very pleased that enough people showed up.”

Others, particularly members of the transportation committee who had worked on the letter, said they were disappointed by the decision and remained troubled by the city’s plans to reconfigure a stretch of Fauntleroy.

“I feel it will affect us terribly,” said Vickie Mercer, who helped draft the letter. “It affects every commuter who goes downtown, and it’ll affect bus riders, too.”

The project would reconfigure a 1.3 mile stretch of Fauntleroy Way between S.W. Alaska Street and California Avenue, reducing it from four lanes to two, creating a bi-directional turn lane in the middle and providing bicycle lanes on either side. According to city engineering reports, the road carries about 19,000 motorists a day.

Members of the transportation committee decided to voice their opposition because of concerns that the heavily traveled stretch of road — a straight shot to the Fauntleroy ferry terminal — would become even more congested during peak commute time, causing Islanders to miss their boats.

The community council’s executive board approved sending the letter prior to a vote of the membership because the city’s comment period was about to close. Under community council rules, “The board can take an action that would normally require community support if we have time constraints, and then ask for ratification at the next community council meeting,” said Jean Bosch, the council’s president.

Bosch said she was pleased with how the process played out.

“It was a fair, honest and open discussion,” she said.

But Mercer said she felt troubled by the process.

The room, she said, was “packed with people who rarely attend community council.”

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