King County still wrestling with Dockton Road’s future

No decisions have been made about the future of a stretch of Dockton Road that hugs Tramp Harbor, and King County officials are continuing to explore all of its options, the county’s roads division chief said.

Linda Dougherty, who heads King County’s Road Services Division, said she’s heard concerns that the county may decide not to spend millions of dollars to keep the road open because of the Island’s lack of consensus about the much-discussed issue. But in fact, she said, the county is still weighing all of its options, including a couple of new permutations that were the result of Island input.

“We’ve been directed by the (King) county council to study several options. They didn’t want us to leap to the conclusion that we should replace the road exactly as is,” Dougherty said in an interview last week.

Concern about the county’s direction surfaced earlier this month, after a consultant for the roads division told a Vashon-based advisory group that there was no consensus on the Island about how the project should proceed. The consultant, according to members of the citizens’ advisory group, said communities often reach a consensus on a project of this magnitude.

As a result, Nancy Kappelman, a member of the advisory group, sent out an e-mail to friends and acquaintances on Maury Island and Monument Road, a street that would have to absorb considerably more traffic if the Tramp Harbor stretch of road were closed, urging them to weigh in.

“We were informed at the last meeting that they did not have a consensus of opinion from Vashon residents on what to do with the road,” she wrote in the e-mail. “Please do not let residents who are not affected by the closure make this decision.”

In an interview, Kap-pelman said she was concerned by the consultant’s statement, as were other members of the citizens’ advisory group.

“It was surprising to us that they didn’t think there was a consensus, especially since all of Maury Island is affected,” she said.

Natalie Sheard, who lives on the corner of Monument and S.W. 204th Street, said she, too, was surprised to hear that the county believes there’s not a consensus to keep the road open.

“At the last meeting I was at, in October, it was obvious that all of us thought, ‘Don’t close the road,’” Sheard said.

Kappelman, who lives on Monument Road, said she’s troubled by the fact that Islanders whose lives would be disrupted very little by the road’s closure appear to have an equal voice in the future of Dockton Road.

“I feel like the people who are impacted the most by the road closure should have their votes weighted more than people who live on the west end,” she said.

But Dougherty, who says her office has gotten several calls and e-mails since Kappelman sent out her appeal, said the roads division won’t take any action without fully considering the impact on those closest to the aging stretch of road.

“I am concerned if folks who live on Maury Island think we are somehow ignoring them. We’re not,” Dougherty said.

At the same time, she added, residents across the Island will be affected by the county’s decision, as will all the taxpayers in unincorporated King County.

“We really are listening,” she said.

Engineers identified the road as one of the county’s most imperiled a few years ago and put it on the short list for an ambitious rebuild that could top $30 million. Because of budget cuts, the project is no longer in the county’s budget, but Dougherty hopes to find other funds to repair the nearly one-mile stretch of road.

Among the possible scenarios is to do nothing; close the road, making it into a walking path and beach-restoration project; or fully repair the seawall and road, adding a wide sidewalk that would extend over the water several feet.

A second open house to discuss the three options will be held in April.

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