Students Address Redmond Traffic & 520

June  18, 2010

Oliver in Civil Engr. Class

Student Stephen Oliver presents his plan for reducing traffic
through downtown Redmond to his classmates

(re-printed from the Redmond Reporter; June 18, 2010)

By Mary Stevens Decker
Redmond Reporter Reporter
June 18, 2010

Improving Redmond's traffic flow and replacing the 520 floating bridge with a tunnel system under Lake Washington were some of the topics tackled by students in the "Theory of Urban Design and Planning" class at Lake Washington Technical College (LWTC) this quarter.

Bob Mandy, instructor for the course at LWTC's main campus in Kirkland, said the object of the assignment was to "identify a problem, do research to see what others have done nationally or internationally and apply that knowledge to the problem."

Students were advised to pick an urban design problem that affects them directly.

"For the Redmond guy that's doing it, talking about traffic issues, it's in his face every day. He deals with the traffic," Mandy explained.

And everyone on the Eastside has a stake in making sure there's a safe, reliable way to cross the lake to Seattle and back.

Mandy, a registered architect in his 14th year of teaching, met with individual students or teams to mentor and critique them as they worked on their projects. They presented their work June 15 and 16.

In his presentation about Redmond's traffic jams, student Stephen Oliver mentioned approaches that have worked in other times and locations.

The grid pattern was popular in the Roman civilization, he said. Two large streets, one going North-South, the other East-West, would be laced with smaller roads and alley ways.

The City of Redmond, in fact, is working toward a grid pattern in its downtown neighborhood, with the upcoming extension of 161st Avenue Northeast and eventually turning the "one-way couplet" of Redmond Way and Cleveland Street into two-way streets.

Oliver also talked about a Middle Ages design model, where castles or abbeys were surrounded by expanding rings. Cities such as Lexington, Ky. and Washington, D.C. have used such urban designs, he said.

But the grid pattern would be easier and less costly to implement as a redesign, said Oliver.

A team consisting of Nathaniel Estor, Jennifer Mills and Dmitry Vishniakov explained how a series of Eastbound, Westbound and light-rail tunnels under Lake Washington, like the "Chunnel" system connecting England and France, would pose no threat to the Washington Park Arboretum, would not interfere with salmon migration or tribal fishing, would create less noise than a new bridge and would not impede boat traffic.

Mandy said the architecture and urban design/planning classes at LWTC are feeders for a bachelor's program and that students are encouraged to go on to further studies.