City Council OKs transportation projects

May 16, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 3:27 p.m. May 16, 2009

City Council members recently approved a plan that outlines dozens of transportation projects — from construction of the Interstate 90 Undercrossing to improving sidewalks and streets.

On May 4, the council unanimously approved the Transportation Improvement Program, which outlines how transportation money will be spent in the next six years.

Listed in the TIP are projects ranging from an $8.39 million project to improve Newport Way from Maple Street to West Sunset Way to safety improvements, such as the construction of a traffic roundabout at the corner of East Lake Sammamish Parkway and Southeast 43rd Way, north of Lake Sammamish State Park and near Providence Point.

City Transportation Manager Gary Costa presented the TIP to council members. He explained the role of the TIP in securing dollars for transportation projects.

“In order for a project to receive any state, federal or half-cent gas tax funding, the project must be listed in the TIP,” Costa said. “And the TIP is required to be adopted by the City Council.”

Projects listed in the TIP are prioritized through the separate Capital Improvement Plan process. City Council members will review CIP projects during the next few weeks. The full council will consider the CIP during a June 15 meeting.

Included in the TIP is a $1.5 million plan by the state Department of Transportation to widen and realign East Sunset Way at I-90 and reconstruct the existing temporary retaining wall. Plans call for the DOT to bear the cost of the project.

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 nixed plans for the bypass last year.

Councilman David Kappler asked whether outside funding sources would be available for another East Sunset Way project — a $4.5 million plan to widen the roadway and improve curbs, drainage and sidewalks.

Costa said the timing of state and federal funding hinges on the amount of advance work at the city level.

“We would hope that we would be able to get money for it, but the funding is highly competitive,” he said. “Hopefully, we would have design done, specifically with federal funds. If you don’t have the design completed and ready to go, you just don’t do as well in the points system with all of the other projects in the competition.”

Councilman Fred Butler asked if the Sunset Way projects could be completed at the same time to minimize construction-related traffic congestion.

“It’s difficult to fund everything that needs to be done, but perhaps look at whether those could be done concurrently so that we’re disrupting traffic just once,” Butler said.

State law requires every municipality to annually update its TIP for the upcoming six years. City planners will submit the plan to the Puget Sound Regional Council, a transportation planning organization, by May 22. The document will then be submitted to the DOT by June 1.

“This is a good framework of programs for the city to pass along to PSRC and WashDOT, and hopefully get some more noncity sources to take care of these projects along the way,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said.

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