Negotiations are under way for Issaquah High School traffic fixes

December 2, 2008

By Jon Savelle

As part of its big remodeling project for Issaquah High School, Issaquah School District officials are obligated to mitigate traffic impacts in the city. But how and where to do that has not been settled.Negotiations are under way between city and district officials, said city Transportation Engineer Gary Costa, so the details of any proposals could not be released. But three general proposals are on the table.

Two would take place north and south of the school at 700 Second Ave. S.E. Of those, one is for improvements and possibly a signal at Second and East Sunset Way, where backups occur during peak hours. The other is at Second and Front Street South, where northbound traffic is delayed at a signal. That location is being considered for a right-turn lane to Second.

The third candidate for mitigation is the intersection of Front and Sunset, which for many reasons is the most congested in the city.

City Councilman Joshua Schaer, who chairs the city Transportation Committee, said he believes revising Front and Sunset is the least likely of the three options. It is farthest from the school, would require major changes to curbs, parking and sidewalks, and the resulting traffic improvements — if any — are not well understood. Cost, too, is an issue.

“The initial consideration is how much money the school district is going to put forward,” he said. “Realistically, I don’t think all three are going to get done.”

The other two options have problems of their own to solve. At Second Avenue Southeast and Front Street South, the proposed northbound turn lane would be only four or five cars long, Schaer said.

“Does that cure the backup on Front Street?” he asked. “And the other concern is, it turns Second into a de facto bypass. If we are able to do more than one mitigation, that would be No. 2.”

That leaves the intersection of Second and East Sunset Way as the No. 1 choice. Schaer said it would improve traffic flow on Sunset, but the light also would create a northbound queue on Second.

Other traffic changes planned for the school include a signal at the campus entry, with a center left-turn lane on Second and restricted access to the upper parking lot.

Reach Reporter Jon Savelle at 392-6434, ext. 234, or jsavelle@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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