Sunset Way interchange completion to begin construction in late spring

January 12, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

The narrow, temporary East Sunset Way approach to Interstate 90 will be completed this year with wider lanes, road shoulders, curbs and a sidewalk. By Greg Farrar

The narrow, temporary East Sunset Way approach to Interstate 90 will be completed this year with wider lanes, road shoulders, curbs and a sidewalk. By Greg Farrar

Expect construction noise and lane closures when state crews begin work to widen the East Sunset Way approach to Interstate 90 in late spring.

State Department of Transportation plans call for construction on the $3.5 million project to start in May and last about six months. Although most work will take place off the roadway, the project will require up to 60 nighttime closures, when a single lane will remain open and flag crews will direct traffic.

Workers will widen the narrow, curved roadway from a single lane in each direction hemmed by concrete barriers to wider lanes bracketed by road shoulders, curbs and a sidewalk.

“When you have two buses or two trucks try to go through here at the same time, it’s impossible. One of them has to wait,” Project Engineer Hung Huynh said.

Crews will also replace a temporary support wall with a permanent support for the widened roadway. The project will also require workers to reconfigure storm water retention ponds adjacent to the site.

Huynh said the DOT plans to advertise the project to contractors next month. Officials tapped into state gas tax revenue to pay for the project.

Huynh presented the project to the Council Transportation Committee last week, where members raised safety issues and lamented the lack of city input in the state project.

“It sure would have been nice to have some options during the design of this, to be able to understand what it would take to have everything and the cost associated with that, so that if the city wanted to partner in that, we could have done it,” Councilman Fred Butler said.

Councilman Joshua Schaer referenced the city Complete Streets program — a plan to include pedestrian and bicycle connectors alongside roads — and asked if the road shoulders could be widened to include bike lanes.

“We’ve had comments from residents about needing adequate bicycle facilities through that corridor,” Schaer said.

Plans call for a road shoulder four feet wide separated from the roadway by a curb. When a bike lane is built next to a curb, guardrail or barrier, state law requires the lane to be at least five feet wide. Officials raised concerns about bicyclists using the road shoulder as bike lanes, even if the lanes are not marked as such.

“We tried very hard to convince the state for a 10-foot sidewalk and multipurpose lane unsuccessfully,” City Administrator Leon Kos said.

Butler asked for state officials to work with the project contractor to keep construction noise down.

“I actually get phone calls at 1:30 or so in the morning sometimes complaining about noise,” he said.

Crews completed most of the interchange in 2003. Workers left the East Sunset Way piece unfinished in order for the junction to link with the planned Southeast Bypass.

City Council members canceled the proposed 1.1-mile roadway across Tiger Mountain in a 2008 decision. Concerns about impacts on the environment and traffic led officials to stop the planning process after 12 years and $4 million.

The interchange work completed in 2003 — billed by the DOT as a $117 million congestion-relief project — created a new way to access Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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One Response to “Sunset Way interchange completion to begin construction in late spring”

  1. Chris Hawkins on January 13th, 2010 6:58 pm

    When the SE Bypass project was dropped in 2008, the city had $1,580,000 in left-over SE Bypass funds. Last year the City Council passed AB 5913, which paid for the first 10,000 sq. ft. of traffic mitigation fees for any commercial project in the city. This was billed as boosting development on Front Street, but little of the money was spent there.

    So far $260,000 has been spent, including $86,000 for the 3 Overlake Medical Center buildings north of Fred Meyer.

    There remains $1,320,000 in the SE Bypass fund. Spending this money on the Sunset Way interchange, part of the original SE Bypass, would be a better place for these funds.

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