Officials advise to plan ahead for summer roadwork
June 23, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
State transportation officials have spent months warning Eastside commuters about weeks of traffic congestion and headaches when the westbound Interstate 90 floating bridge shuts down next month. But other roadwork closer to home could also complicate commutes for Issaquah drivers.
City, county and state crews will resurface roads, build sidewalks and shore up overpasses in Issaquah and the surrounding area. Other, long-term construction projects — like the state Route 900 widening — will continue through summer.
“Compared to past years, it’s a little more than average but far from the busiest,” City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock said.On deck for city crews: A plan to build a $1.4 million, three-legged roundabout at East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast and Southeast 43rd Way starting in early summer. Though roads will not close during peak travel times — from 6-9 a.m. and from 3-6 p.m. weekdays — closures will occur at off-peak hours.
Other city road projects are varied.
As part of the Complete Streets initiative, city crews will install work on sidewalks at two intersections: Northwest Holly Street at Fifth Avenue Northwest and 220th Avenue Southeast at Southeast 51st Street. Complete Streets are meant for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and transit riders to safely use a street simultaneously.
Along Newport Way, city crews will widen shoulders and restripe lanes from Northwest Oak Crest Drive to Lakemont.
A project to modify the intersection of Southeast 56th Street and 221st Place Southeast — between East Lake Sammamish Parkway and Lake Sammamish State Park — and make left turns safer should begin in the latter part of the year, Brock said. Officials said the intersection is the most dangerous in the city.
City crews will also resurface Southeast Issaquah-Fall City Road from East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast to Southeast 58th Street — about 500 yards southwest of Highlands Drive. The project, set to last about two weeks, is scheduled for July or August. Lanes could be closed overnight on weekdays.
County gears up for road, bridge work
King County Road Services Division crews will work on another portion of the road. County plans call for the roadway to be widened between 247th Place Southeast and Klahanie Drive Southeast. Crews will construct a new sidewalk and bike lane, and add lighting. Other features include new pedestrian signal countdown timers and activation upgrades. Crews will also overhaul traffic signs, signals and pavement markings. Road Services Division spokeswoman Linda Thielke said the county project should begin in August.
Another county road project began in March, and will continue throughout summer. Crews are building a new Bandaret Bridge. The span carries May Valley Road over Issaquah Creek near Issaquah-Hobart Road, between 230th Avenue Southeast and 231st Place Southeast. Engineers said the project should be complete by November.
County crews are rebuilding the narrow timber bridge in two phases. During the first phase, the old bridge remained open to traffic while crews worked on the new span. Drivers will be shifted to the single open lane on the new bridge. A temporary traffic signal at each end of the bridge and flaggers direct drivers in the meantime.
The old bridge will be demolished and the second lane of the new bridge will be built during the second phase.
Drivers can watch construction on a traffic camera linked to the Road Services Division Web site at www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot.aspx. Click on Road Services, then Construction Projects in Unincorporated King County. A link to the Bandaret Bridge site is on the right.
I-90 bridge work tops DOT project list
The project with the most potential to snarl traffic for Issaquah commuters will take place on Lake Washington. State DOT officials will close the westbound I-90 bridge for repairs July 5. The shutdown is scheduled to last up to three weeks.
Crews will install a pair of new expansion joints weighing 65 tons each. Joints — some of the largest in the world — allow the bridge to bend with traffic, weather and the water level in the lake.
In May, during the first phase of construction, commute times from Issaquah to Seattle doubled from the usual 30 minutes during peak times. DOT officials urged commuters to take a vacation during the July shutdown, or commute before 6 a.m. and after the evening rush.
About 71,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day. Officials warned drivers congestion would be severe during the shutdown. Expect bad weather and accidents to swell commute times as well.
Meanwhile, work continues as part of the state Route 900 widening project. Drivers can expect intermittent single lane closures between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays through the end of the month as crews install a water pipeline. Other closures will occur through December as workers finish the $33.8 million second phase of the project. Phase 2 will widen state Route 900 from Newport Way to Southeast 78th Street. During the completed first phase, the road was widened from I-90 to Newport Way.
Elsewhere in Issaquah, DOT workers are conducting preventative maintenance. Crews working beneath the Interstate 90 overpass at Front Street are taking the first step toward strengthening the roadway to withstand earthquakes.
State Department of Transportation crews are preparing the overpass for new components.
DOT crews will bring the Front Street overpass, and 15 other bridges between Richards Road in Bellevue and Winery Road near Snoqualmie, up to present-day earthquake standards. Engineers estimate the $9.4 million project will be complete by October. Officials said the traffic impact would be minimal when the project begins in earnest this summer.
Crews will strengthen columns to prevent girders from slipping off the bridge piers during an earthquake. DOT spokeswoman Broch Bender said the bridges would be able to withstand greater seismic stress after the retrofit is complete.
Columns will be swaddled in column jackets to prevent the bridge column from crumbling apart during an earthquake. Crews will also add girder stops to prevent bridge girders from sliding or tipping.
Bender said girder stops would prevent the overpass from swaying side to side in an earthquake. She said the first stage of the project is “similar to taking measurements to fit a suit.”
Plan ahead for road projects set to begin or continue throughout summer. City, county and state crews have a busy construction season planned for roads and bridges in and around Issaquah, including:
1 — Widening shoulders and restriping lanes on Newport Way from Northwest Oak Crest Drive to Lakemont.
2 — Building a three-legged roundabout at East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast and Southeast 43rd Way.
3 — Working on sidewalks at 220th Avenue Southeast at Southeast 51st Street.
4 — Modifying the intersection of Southeast 56th Street and 221st Place Southeast to make left turns safer.
5 — Working on sidewalks at Northwest Holly Street at Fifth Avenue Northwest.
6 — Resurfacing Southeast Issaquah-Fall City Road from East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast to Southeast 58th Street.
7 — State Department of Transportation crews continuing work on the state Route 900 widening project.
8 — DOT crews retrofitting the Interstate 90 overpass at Front Street to add seismic safety features.
9 — City crews widening Issaquah-Fall City Road between 247th Place Southeast and Klahanie Drive Southeast. Crews will construct a new sidewalk and bike lane, and add lighting.
Sources: City Public Works Engineering Department, King County Road Services Division, Washington Department of Transportation
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.