Another Olympia committee talks of the need for sidewalk improvement


After the Land Use and Environment and the Bicycle and Pedestrian committee raised their concern, the Olympia Planning Commission convened on October 3 to discuss the lack of funding for the sidewalk and active transportation in the Capital Facilities Plan (CFP) to be submitted to the City Council.

Finance Subcommittee Chair Greg Quetin presented a document composed of an overview of ways that the CFP can be improved for communication, reviews, and constructive feedback for the continued improvement of the CFP.

 “We held three meetings with the subcommittee to discuss the CFP and ask questions or discuss it with staff as well. Out of the last meeting, we came up with the bones of this draft letter, the primary,” Quetin stated.

Quetin added that the committee funds the rest of the CFP to be generally in line with a comprehensive plan and clarified, “we had concerns with transportation that were also reflected in the public comment, particularly around sidewalks and kind of expanded from there to active transportation in general.”

Commissioner Carole Richmond noted that one of the public comments said that in 2003, the committee focused more on streets with the highest vehicle speeds and volumes than the local access ones and inquired about what the commission has done on the prioritization of sidewalk projects.

 “With local access streets, which are the ones that we are having problems with, pedestrians and vehicles can more easily share those streets because of the lower traffic volume. Local access streets are not included in this program,” Richmond said.

 Quetin answered that those are two separate issues, and the sidewalk plan is primarily for building new sidewalks focused on busier roads. He said a similar list of projects ended up in the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) with the same prioritization.

“The projects in the transportation master plan right now [are] those top projects that would get done in the next 20 years. They are the projects from the 2003 plan, but they're actually re-prioritized. They're not in the same order as the 2003 plan,” Quetin added.

Commissioner Candi conveyed, “I thought the letter was very good, and it addressed not only a lot of my concerns, but what we heard through a public comment. I do have an issue about getting into the weeds on funding. We do seem to continually encourage the council to look at funding options for sidewalks, so maybe a better approach would be to provide some examples of alternative funding sources.”

The meeting adjourned with minor revisions to the commission’s comment letter about the CFP.