Transportation priorities include roundabout, I-90 Undercrossing

April 28, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

City officials are reviewing a plan to overhaul and update roads in the next decade. The wide-ranging Transportation Improvement Program outlines funding for big-ticket projects, like the Interstate 90 Undercrossing, and includes proposed overhauls for bridges and intersections.The plan will go before the City Council at a May 4 public hearing. Residents will have an opportunity to weigh in on the TIP, which outlines how transportation dollars will be spent in the next six years.

The plan calls for dollars to complete roadway projects, analyze traffic patterns and address congestion, and improve city sidewalks and streets for bikers and pedestrians. Officials use gas tax revenue, as well as other state and federal dollars, to pay for the projects. Projects must be listed in the TIP in order to be eligible for half-cent gas tax money.

City Transportation Manager Gary Costa said projects are listed in the TIP, but are prioritized through a separate process to fund capital improvements. 

Among the dozens of projects is a proposal to a replace a traffic signal to cut the number of crashes at the intersection that has the highest number of accidents in the city, Southeast 56th Street and 221st Place Southeast. Only a handful of the proposed projects are slated to begin in 2009.

One of those proposals calls for modifications to the intersection of Southeast 56th Street and 221st Place Southeast — between East Lake Sammamish Parkway and Lake Sammamish State Park — to begin this year. Crews will replace and relocate the poles and masts that support the signals, and reconfigure the lanes to make left turns safer. The price tag for the project is $274,744, which will be paid by the city.

The budget for this year also sets aside money to lay the groundwork for improvements to Newport Way from Maple Street to West Sunset Way. As part of the $8.39 million project, planners envision a roadway that will eventually have improved intersections, two travel lanes, two bike lanes, a sidewalk on one side and an 8-foot-wide trail on the other side. The city will pay for the project, according to the TIP.

Other Newport Way projects are outlined in the TIP for upcoming years, including improvements to the intersection of Newport Way and Maple Street.  

A two-lane, three-legged roundabout will be built this year at the corner of East Lake Sammamish Parkway and Southeast 43rd Way. Traffic modeling showed the proposed roundabout would improve safety, according to the TIP. Moreover, the roundabout will make the intersection operate more efficiently, the document states.  

The cost of the roundabout is estimated $3.46 million. The city will shoulder $63,298 of the cost, according to the TIP.

Costa said the roundabout would enhance safety: “The roundabout will improve that significantly.”

Included in the TIP is a plan by the state Department of Transportation to widen and realign East Sunset Way at I-90 and reconstruct the existing temporary retaining wall. 

The ramp that connects East Sunset Way to the interstate is a temporary ramp, which would have been rebuilt after the Southeast Bypass was constructed. But the City Council axed plans for the bypass last year. 

DOT crews will instead complete the $1.5 million project without the bypass connection, according to the TIP. Money for the project will come from the state. Plans call for construction to begin in 2010, depending on the availability of funding.

Construction on the oft-delayed I-90 Undercrossing could begin next year. Costa said the project could possibly receive federal stimulus money. However, the dollars would hinge on other projects coming in under bid, therefore freeing up stimulus money. Stimulus dollars would also depend on whether regional planners would recommend the undercrossing for funding. 

State law requires every municipality to annually update its TIP for the upcoming six years. After city officials hear public comments about the TIP, planners will submit the plan to the Puget Sound Regional Council, a transportation planning organization. The document will then be submitted to the state DOT.

Get involved

Transportation Improvement Program public hearing

City Council regular meeting

7:30 p.m. May 4

Council Chambers

135 E. Sunset Way

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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