August 17, 2010
Look beyond Issaquah for traffic solutions
Issaquah has waited a long time for definitive transportation improvements. At last, a few are coming.
In the past decade, Issaquah got an Intelligent Transportation System that allowed traffic lights to be synchronized and reader boards to advise drivers of traffic revisions. Two years ago, the great debate over whether to build a southeast connector road from Interstate 90’s Exit 18 at East Sunset Way to Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast was decided.
This summer, two big changes born of that decision will provide real improvements.
Sunset Way at Second Avenue will be widened to allow for a turn lane. Second Avenue Southeast will also get a right-hand turn lane onto Sunset. The changes should significantly improve traffic flow through the intersection, especially in the afternoon, when schools release students for the day.Now that we know the bypass road will not be done, the state Department of Transportation is working to complete an otherwise narrow and awkward off-ramp at Sunset Way and I-90. On Northwest Gilman Boulevard, crews are working to complete the I-90 Undercrossing, giving drivers an alternative route between shopping districts. State Route 900 near Talus is near the end of a road-widening project. And the city is getting serious about improvements to Newport Way Northwest.
The city has done its part in seeking solutions, but there is still a major piece not done. Until something is done to complete the exit ramps at I-90 and state Route 18 — about 10 miles east of Issaquah — commuters from Maple Valley and beyond will continue to travel through Issaquah in hopes of shortening their commute time.
An I-90 corridor study says the completed widening of Highway 18 is essential, but the estimated cost is $450 million. Funding is not available, even for a first phase. Once it does begin, it will take a decade or more to complete. Nevertheless, city leaders should continue to push the importance of this project so it will be top of mind when funds are available.
Issaquah must look beyond its borders to see the cause and effect of traffic — and the solutions.