By Jorgen Bader, RBCA Vice President
With regret, the RBCA Board accepted the resignation of the long-serving chair of our Transportation Committee. Virginia Gunby accepted the position of Transportation Committee chair in order to assist our community in opposing a design proposed by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) in July 2006 for rebuilding State Route 520.
The design proposed was a massive concrete interchange, like those in industrial areas. It included tall stilts over Union Bay with ramps taking up the south Husky Stadium parking lot and the widening of Montlake Blvd NE. As a result of the public outcry, the 2007 legislature required WSDOT to go through a mediation process with a panel of representatives from the affected communities. The process lasted through December 2008 and Virginia spoke for RBCA.
Virginia led the coalition that developed the design which became the basis for the current plan. Throughout the many meetings, some very contentious, Virginia had the persuasive skills, patience, and diplomatic ability to bring others around on many key issues. The mediation process was followed by the environmental reviews procedures, follow-up WSDOT consultations, and then lengthy City Council review and revisions that continued for years. Virginia advocated for lanes for transit and high occupancy vehicles, lids and other measures to mitigate environmental damage, and coordination with Sound Transit.
Back in the 1960’s, Governor Dan Evans appointed Virginia to the then State Highway Commission. As a commissioner, she pushed for the design of I-90 to consider environmental values and for special lanes for transit. She is co-founder and was president of 1000 Friends of Washington, now called Futurewise. Virginia served as a freeholder in framing the 1968 King County Charter and served on two of its review commissions. She chaired a Growth Management Committee for the Puget Sound Regional Council and held important positions on the King County legislative and executive staffs. Virginia has also been a senior official in the League of Women Voters. Her views always carry clout.
Over the years, Virginia was also in the forefront for locating the Sound Transit Station in the Roosevelt business district (rather than next to I-5); against cutting Metro bus service to our neighborhood; and for roadway improvement measures.
Virginia retired from the RBCA board to dedicate her time curating the records of Margaret Tunks, founder of Citizens Against Freeways, for the UW. We will greatly miss her contributions to RBCA.