City considers Squak Mountain bus transit route

March 9, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

How to link Squak Mountain to the regional mass-transit system likely will receive a closer look from planners, the City Council decided last week.The decision follows a request from Squak Mountain residents, who asked city planners for ways to bring mass transit or another transportation option to their neighborhoods.

The measure, which requires final approval by the council, would entail adjusting the budget for the city’s Public Works Engineering Department. The proposal would add $4,000 to the department’s budget. The additional cash would pay for the time staffers spent studying options, responding to questions and preparing documents for council review. The effort will require between 40 and 60 hours of staff time, according to city documents.

Bringing mass transit to Squak Mountain is a challenge, due to steep terrain, curving streets and sporadic sidewalks, according to a transit study prepared for the city. Despite the difficulties, residents urged the city to consider the possibility of a mass transit link or an alternative, such as a van-share service.

With its unanimous vote March 2, the council referred the item to the Council Transportation Committee for further consideration. The committee met three days later, endorsed the proposal and sent it back to the full council for approval. Members are scheduled to weigh the final proposal March 16.

The transit study, delivered to the city in September, considers options to connect Squak Mountain with the Issaquah Transit Center.

Several transportation possibilities would be difficult to achieve, according to the study. Running a bus line to Squak Mountain would likely be too expensive to establish. Rerouting an existing line could leave key areas of the city without bus access. A dial-a-ride service connecting Squak Mountain residents to the transit hub would be too limited on its own.

The transit study recommends a three-pronged approach: expanded dial-a-ride service, van-sharing promotion and a carpooling program.

Councilman Joshua Schaer, Transportation Committee chairman, said future planning would depend on which options were considered.

Transportation Committee members said the reaction from Squak Mountain residents was a positive sign.

“There appears to be a willingness to pay,” said Councilman Fred Butler, a Transportation Committee member.

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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