Construction concludes on redo to bike and pedestrian upgrades

November 23, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

The city has opened upgraded bike lanes and a pedestrian trail along Newport Way Northwest — again.

Crews completed the initial upgrade about a year ago and city leaders gathered on a rain-slicked afternoon in October 2009 to open the trail from state Route 900 to Lakemont Boulevard Southeast, the Issaquah city line.

The project ended up before the City Council months later, after drivers attempted to use the upgraded shoulder as another traffic lane.

So, after much debate, the council decided to redo the project. Crews completed the overhaul in early November. The project added bike lanes in both directions, plus a pedestrian path separated by curbs from the north side of the roadway along Newport Way Northwest.

City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock said some permanent striping needs to be added, but otherwise, the project is complete. The makeover cost is estimated at $117,000.

The council decided in March to spend up to $120,000 for the project. The decision prompted debate because crews added a trail and a gravel shoulder to the same section of road late last year.

But problems arose before the project had been completed. The city started to receive complaints about drivers using the widened shoulder as another lane — despite a double white line, a rumble strip and “No driving on shoulder” signs.

“I’ve never seen anybody doing stuff on other roads as crazy as they were doing on this particular one,” Brock said.

Councilman Joshua Schaer decried the safety problems the initial project caused at the “wild west end of town,” but led a push against the makeover.

“It’s one of these things where I would have been just as satisfied not spending that extra money and putting it toward something else, especially since we said this project was done,” he said.

Schaer, a resident in a development along Newport Way Northwest, said residents had used the widened shoulder for parking during severe winter weather, after snow and ice made steep driveways unsafe.

“The threat of somebody driving down that is going to be reduced because of the way it’s set up,” he said. “I’m just concerned about the emergency pull over and potential hazard parking needs, because it’s going to pretty rough over there if we get another big snow event.”

Brock said the city did not receive much feedback from residents along the corridor after crews started the project in late August.

“Surprisingly, we heard very little,” he said. “We had sent letters out to everybody along the corridor when the changes were proposed, talked about it at a couple committee meetings and we really didn’t hear any feedback.”

City considers another Newport Way Northwest section

The city has plans to redo another stretch of Newport Way Northwest from Northwest Maple Street and West Sunset Way in the years ahead.
Newport Way Northwest carries a single lane of traffic in each direction through a corridor bracketed by narrow shoulders, ditches and asphalt sidewalks. The area also encompasses a school zone for Issaquah Valley Elementary School.
Planners said congestion on the street could increase in the coming decades, so the city has embarked on a plan to upgrade safety and traffic flow, pedestrian trails and storm water management through the corridor. Options under consideration include a series of roundabouts or a widened road and traffic signals.
The city has held a series of open houses to discuss the project. Council Transportation Committee members discuss the plan again at a public meeting in mid-December. The entire City Council is expected to discuss the proposal and select a plan for the corridor early next year.
City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock said the proposed 2011 municipal budget includes $360,000 for design and some environmental work related to a possible Newport Way Northwest overhaul. The council adopts the budget in late December.
Brock said the city intends to develop a plan in 2011 to fund right-of-way acquisition and construction for the project, though a construction timeline remains impossible to gauge at present.

On the Web

Learn more about the proposals to remake Newport Way Northwest from Northwest Maple Street and West Sunset Way at the project website.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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