East Sunset Way interchange construction concludes
October 26, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
Contractor steered clear of planned road closures
The state project to remake the cramped East Sunset Way approach to Interstate 90 has been completed on time and under budget to the delight of drivers and transportation officials.
Crews rolled out heavy equipment in June to upgrade the approach to the interstate and completed major construction in late September. The state Department of Transportation had budgeted $3.5 million for the project, but a recession-dampened bid climate meant the state could instead complete the project for $1.3 million.
Though the initial plan called for up to 60 nighttime lane closures, flag crews limited closures to the daytime throughout construction.
The stretch from Sixth Avenue Northeast to the interstate used to be a harrowing experience for drivers, especially if a tractor-trailer or bus steered through the tight curve at the same time.
The just-concluded project completed the last piece of the I-90 interchange completed in 2003. The state had left the $117 million interchange unfinished in case the city decided to build the Southeast Bypass across Tiger Mountain.
City Council members decided against the controversial connector in early 2008. The decision cleared the path to complete the interchange.
The upgraded approach features ample space in each lane, plus a sidewalk and a permanent retention wall. Only landscaping and planting has yet to be completed. Mike Murphy, a state Department of Transportation spokesman, said the landscaping should start in mid-November.
The transportation agency planned for calls from residents concerned about traffic or construction noise, but Murphy said the Department of Transportation did not receive any feedback from residents.
City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock said City Hall did not receive calls about the project either. In late August, as crews completed the interchange project and a separate restriping project spearheaded by the Issaquah School District, the Issaquah Police Department received a handful of calls related to traffic delays.
Brock praised the state and the contractor, Bellevue-based Tri-State Construction, for a near-painless construction process.
“We really have been getting pretty positive feedback on everything, other than the occasional delay during the construction when people were flagged and had to stop,” he said. “It generally has been a pretty smooth operation out there.”
The contractor also cleaned a piece of public art — the orange Gateway to Tradition Plateau piece — for free.
“Everything looks just so much better in its final form,” Brock said. “The lanes are wider. The whole thing just looks and feels much more safe than it did before.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.