Olympia strikes plans for controversial LBA Woods road project

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Olympia City Council voted yesterday to amend the city’s comprehensive plan, eliminating for now an extension of Log Cabin Road that would have cut through the LBA Woods property in south Olympia.

Instead, the comprehensive plan will be amended to stipulate that the city will fund a study in about 10 years, examining the need for a street connection between Boulevard Road SE and Wiggins Road SE.

The proposed road extension project drew criticism from community members concerned at the notion of a roadway cutting through a popular scenic walking spot. The project was also opposed by the local chapter of the Sierra Club. Seven community members spoke during yesterday’s meeting, urging the council members to amend the comprehensive plan and strike the project.

“The LBA woods is a rare area of urban forest. … We ask that the woods not be disturbed by the road proposed down the road,” said George Watland, chair of the local chapter of the Sierra Club.

In a memo signed by Deputy Public Works Director Mark Russell and Transportation Planning Supervisor Sophie Stimson, those officials said the Olympia Public Works Department opposed amending the plan, saying the road extension is “significant both for Olympia and the region’s transportation system” and a part of the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan.

“New streets are needed to complete the transportation network for several reasons, including dispersing traffic. By dispersing traffic across a connected street network, streets can stay small. Connected streets also mean more direct routes, which allows for faster emergency response times, shorter detour routes during construction, and more efficient commercial deliveries,” reads the memo.

It also states that the road will likely be necessary in approximately 15 to 20 years to handle increasing traffic.

Rather than strike the project entirely, Russell proposed a study to be completed in about one decade on traffic in the area. All members of the city council voted in favor of conducting the study, with the exception of Mayor Cheryl Selby, who supported the initial road extension project.

Selby noted that she has softened her stance since hearing from numerous advocates wanting to keep the land a green space. However, she noted her support for the original plan, saying that it was the intended use of the land when the city bought it. In addition to building the road, the city intends to use 10 acres adjacent to Boulevard Road for affordable housing sometime in the future.

A Facebook group named “Save the LBA Woods” — which has amassed just under 1,500 followers — celebrated the council’s decision on Tuesday with an exclamation of “You made the difference!”

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