County restricts parking along Issaquah-Hobart Road

March 17, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

King County officials will limit parking along a stretch of Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast to address concerns related to congestion along the two-lane roadway. The road hugs the base of Tiger Mountain near areas popular with hikers and paraglider pilots.

Parking will be prohibited along the west side of Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast from Southeast 105th Place to about 1,000 feet south of Southeast 113th Street. Workers will install no-parking and tow-away signs within four to six weeks, said Scott Sawhill, a county safety investigations senior engineer. The restrictions will affect roughly a half-mile stretch of roadway.

Transportation officials will also evaluate whether parking should be prohibited on the east side of the roadway, according to a county Department of Transportation letter sent to Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast residents last month.

Traffic chokes Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast when warmer weather attracts hikers to Chirico Trail and paraglider pilots to the Poo Poo Point launch. When the parking lot at the Squak Mountain/Tiger Mountain Corridor county park reaches capacity, drivers park along the shoulders of Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast.

Residents who contacted the county Road Services Division said vehicles park in or near the travel lane, constricting parts of the road to a single lane. Pedestrian safety is also a concern — hikers, paraglider pilots and spectators entering or exiting their vehicles and crossing Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast, according to the letter.

Marc Chirico, owner of Seattle Paragliding on Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast, lauded transportation officials for taking measures to address traffic congestion.

“We are all working together to catch the parking infrastructure up with the popularity of this healthy recreational activity,” he said.

With permission from the state Department of Natural Resources, Chirico built the trail to Poo Poo Point, where paraglider pilots take off from the mountainside. His company runs a shuttle service to the launch site.

Tom Allen, president of the Northwest Paragliding Club, said paraglider pilots are “easy targets” in the traffic debate.

“There are days when we don’t fly and the parking lot and street are filled with hikers,” said Tom Allen, president of the Northwest Paragliding Club.

But Steve Williams, president of the Issaquah Alps Trail Club, said his members seldom hike Chirico Trail. The group organized 140 hikes last year, with four of them on the trail.

“The problem there is largely caused by the paraglider folks and their spectators,” Williams said.

Regardless, Sawhill said visitors who use Tiger Mountain for recreation were receptive of the parking changes.

“They realize there is an issue that needs to be resolved,” he said.

Williams said people using the mountain could alleviate congestion with carpools and expanded shuttle service.

“A lot of this goes back to common sense and good manners,” he said.

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One Response to “County restricts parking along Issaquah-Hobart Road”

  1. Joel Riehl on April 4th, 2009 10:23 pm

    I have driven Issaquah Hobart road twice daily for nearly 20 years, and this new restriction is pointless. The “congestion” excuse is a red herring. Ruining the fun of weekend hikers, parasailers, and spectators will not do one iota to ease my weekday commute. Even on weekends I have never once – not once in twenty years – seen traffic forced down to a single lane.

    On sunny weekend days when the area swells with parasailers and hikers, and the shoulders fill with cars, the area would take on the feeling of an impromptu tailgate party, which I found to lend a wonderful character to the place. Now that’s gone, and has been replaced with this ham-handed fusillade of signs which I notice has already had the unintended consequence of forcing people to park further South in an area where the shoulder is not widened, and where we are not used to looking out for them. I suppose next they’ll run signs all the way down to May Valley Road. I cannot recall a more ill-advised effort.

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