City Council could clear way July 20 for I-90 Undercrossing

July 14, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

City Council members will consider an agreement July 20 to lay the groundwork for construction of the long-planned Interstate 90 Undercrossing. The agreement concerns a key piece of land along the planned undercrossing corridor.Officials will decide whether to approve a development agreement with the U.S. Postal Service, which owns the property where part of the undercrossing will be built. The agreement clears the way for the city to use the postal service’s right of way in order to build the road.

The undercrossing will link Northwest Gilman Boulevard to Southeast 56th Street.

Plans call for a two-lane roadway to be built from the traffic signal at Northwest Gilman Boulevard at the post office. Crews would connect the road into the rail corridor behind Gilman Station. The roadway would continue beneath the existing I-90 overpass.

The road would be built within the former railroad right of way. North of I-90, the road would form a T-shaped intersection at Southeast 62nd Street, then continue north along 221st Place Southeast to Southeast 56th Street.

Transportation planners hope the undercrossing alleviates traffic congestion at existing I-90 interchanges at Front Street North and state Route 900.

The agreement requires the city to build the undercrossing, and handle street improvements and the installation of a traffic signal at the post office entrance.

The pact calls for the postal service to give the city an easement along the east side of the undercrossing for future street expansion. Planning documents said the dedication of the land would allow city officials to compete for federal grants to pay for construction of the undercrossing.

In return, city officials will process required approvals and permits for development of the postal service property. The document states that no transportation improvements will be required if the postal service develops the property. In the case of development, environmental or development studies would not be required, per the agreement.

Brock said city staffers have been negotiating with the postal service for several years for use of the right of way.

City Council members will listen to comments from residents about the agreement at the July 20 meeting.

The price tag for the undercrossing is listed as $13.1 million in the city Transportation Improvement Program, a wide-ranging document that outlines plans for roadwork and construction through 2015. When City Council members approved the TIP on May 4, the undercrossing was listed as a high priority.

Though Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock and other city officials applied for federal stimulus money to build the undercrossing, regional transportation planners opted to apply for federal dollars for projects closer to breaking ground.

Officials hope city crews can break ground on the project next year. Brock said the city could receive less favorable bids as officials begin advertising stimulus projects to contractors. Brock wants city officials to advertise the project to contractors in the fall. He said construction of the undercrossing should last about six months. Officials hope to open the road by the end of 2010.

City officials have recently received and awarded several bids at lower amounts than they had budgeted. Brock said he hopes the city could receive a similar deal for the undercrossing construction.

“The earlier the better for us,” he added.

If you go

City Council regular meeting

7:30 p.m. July 20

Council Chambers, City Hall South

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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