Neighbors complain of traffic after Lacey extends Lebanon Street

Lebanon Street Southeast in Lacey, which used to end at Lacey Boulevard, has been extended to Pacific Avenue to provide access and parking to the city’s future museum and replica train depot now under construction.

Both the future museum and train depot are just east of Saint Martin’s University.

But a neighbor who lives on Lebanon Street said the street extension has been discovered by drivers looking for a shortcut between Pacific Avenue and Ruddell Road, and that has increased traffic for the neighborhood.

Rick Villamil took his concerns to Lacey City Council earlier this month. He said he and others attended city-hosted meetings last year to learn more about planning in the area, which is referred to as the city’s Depot District. They learned the street extension was for future parking.

“This is not the reality,” he told the council. Now, vehicles sometimes drive down Lebanon at 40-50 miles per hour, he said.

The extension has increased traffic, and because much of Lebanon Street does not have sidewalks, pedestrians are at risk. That is of particular concern to Villamil because he is raising an autistic grandchild, he told the council.

“Fortunately he hasn’t run into the street when a car has gone by,” he said.

Villamil acknowledged the city has agreed to a traffic study. A check of the street this week showed a traffic counter was in place.

Villamil also has taken advantage of a Lacey process in which signatures are collected to petition the city to place a traffic calming device on the street. The petition requires approval by 60 percent of the voting neighborhood. The process begins with a temporary calming device, followed by a process to make it permanent.

Villamil said he only has 38 percent of the signatures needed, so he is asking the council to forego the requirement and allocate funds for a traffic calming device. It wasn’t clear whether the city would take that step.

But City Manager Scott Spence said this week that Villamil has been invited to attend the next meeting of the transportation committee at noon Aug. 6 at Lacey City Hall, 420 College St. SE.

Rolf has worked at The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, the city of Lacey and business for the paper. Rolf graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1990.