Issaquah Valley Trolley Project gets nudged ahead by city committee

November 19, 2008

By Jon Savelle

The Issaquah Valley Trolley Project, which would restore service between the depot and Gilman Boulevard, got a boost Nov. 13 from the City Council’s Transportation Committee. Its members recommended the city act as the administrative agency for the trolley project’s $500,000 in grants, which would allow the project to begin.

Such a “certified acceptance agency” is needed to satisfy state and federal requirements for grant management, but finding one has been a years-long task for trolley proponents.

Barb Justice, leader of the project, said the city’s role would be purely administrative and require no engineering work. The grant monies would pay for contractors to overhaul one trolley car, repair the track and install signals at the rail crossing of Front Street North.

At the committee meeting, Sheldon Lynne, deputy director of the Public Works Engineering Department, said the city would be responsible for administering environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act and the state equivalent, take care of matching funds and ensure that federal regulations are followed.

Committee members liked the idea of finally getting started on the trolley project after a decade’s worth of discussion.

“The trolley, when it operated with a borrowed trolley from Yakima, was an attraction that captured the attention of a lot of people,” said Councilman Fred Butler. “It is time for the city to step up and be the certified agency.”

Council members Josh Schaer and Eileen Barber agreed and voted to return the proposal, Agenda Bill 5911, to the full council with a recommendation for approval.

Another recommendation came from citizen and avid cyclist Barbara Shelton.

“I don’t have a problem with the city taking this on,” she said. “But I request, as part of the safety improvements, that the Front Street crossing be made passable by bikes.”

The proposal will appear on the Dec. 1 council agenda as a regular business item.

Reach Reporter Jon Savelle at 392-6434, ext. 234, or jsavelle@isspress.com

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