Opinion

Columnist missed the mark

By MIKE SUDDUTH

For The Beachcomber

I don’t know much about paving, but columnist Will North evidently knows even less!

The road in front of my house was one of the roads chip-sealed.  Chip sealing is a process for maintaining road surfaces at one quarter the cost of asphalt overlay on roads that have lower traffic volumes such as mine. It is done to protect a road before a road falls apart rather than having to pay a much, much greater amount of scarce taxpayer dollars to excavate and reconstruct the road after it has failed. Chip sealing provides a moisture barrier against water intrusion into the road sub-grade which causes cracking, potholes, depressions and eventually failure. It also enhances safety by providing good skid resistance. I am satisfied and appreciative of the chip seal work on my road.

I’d be more than happy to enlighten Mr. North in regards to why a “simple, two-lane road with a 25 miles per hour speed limit” recently received a shoulder widening by the county.  That simple county road, a.k.a. S.W. Burton Drive, is one of the most heavily used roads by walkers (often in large groups), joggers, kids on bikes and moms with strollers.

I have walked along that road to and from work for over thirty years.  I used to be able to walk on the sidewalk that once existed on the north side of the road that went to the old Burton College dormitory.  In recent years overgrown hedges have forced me and other users to abandon the decrepit sidewalk for the more navigable dirt shoulders.  And yet the shoulders were still too narrow, and thus walkers had to also use the roadway.  With the new widened and paved shoulder, people have a safer place to walk, bike or jog.

Several efforts over the years have been made to widen the shoulder along Burton Drive.  Most recently a petition was circulated that collected over a hundred signatures encouraging King County to improve the pedestrian access to the Burton Peninsula. If you’ve ever walked along that stretch, then you know cars seldom adhere to the 25 miles per hour posted speed limit.  More often than not they’re whizzing past you much faster.

Since the new paved shoulder was installed, I have heard nothing but how nice the new walkway is. No, it’s not perfectly smooth, but it’s perfectly walkable and it’s a vast improvement over walking in the mud and the weeds to get home at night.  I certainly appreciate the efforts of King County, and so do my neighbors.

I invite Mr. North to take a personal tour of the new walkway. I’d like to show him the drainage that was added west of 99th Avenue S.W. And I’d like him to show me one culvert that got blocked. I doubt he can. I’d also like to tell Mr. North about the broken water main just east of 99th Avenue S.W. That section of paving was never torn out and then later repaved, as he claims.  The paving crew graciously skipped that section while the water company performed work on their water main. Then the paving crew came back and completed paving that section to finish the job. That is the kind of collaboration I like to see when I am paying the freight.

I see that Mr. North is a novelist planning to write a novel set on the Island. My dictionary defines the word novel as, “A book-length work of fiction.” With regard to the op-ed he wrote this month, perhaps his work is done.

— Mike Sudduth is a 30-year Burton resident.

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