City plans to count vehicles using Interstate 90 Undercrossing

January 18, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Mayor Ava Frisinger (right) addresses city staffers at the opening ceremony for the Interstate 90 Undercrossing on Jan. 11. By Greg Farrar

Motorists continue to discover Fourth Avenue Northwest, a shortcut beneath Interstate 90, and the city plans to start counting the number of vehicles using the undercrossing as early as next month.

The undercrossing opened to traffic in mid-December after the city resolved legal challenges and concerns about the potential impact on the environment. Mayor Ava Frisinger, flanked by the crown-and-robe-clad King and Queen of Issaquah, Nathan Perea and Renee Zimmerman, snipped the ribbon on the road during a Jan. 11 ceremony.

Construction on the undercrossing started last May.

Planners estimate the undercrossing could cut 2,000 to 4,000 vehicles from Northwest Gilman Boulevard and 3,000 to 6,000 vehicles from Front Street North each day.

City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock said crews plan to deploy tubes and sensors on the undercrossing road surface in the months ahead to count vehicles using the connector.

The long-planned link runs from a traffic signal at the Issaquah Post Office along Northwest Gilman Boulevard, connects into the rail corridor behind Gilman Station, forms a T-shaped intersection at Southeast 62nd Street, continues along 221st Place Southeast and then terminates at Southeast 56th Street.

The undercrossing supplements traffic-clogged Front Street North and state Route 900, the other connectors between north and south Issaquah. Both older crossings also provide access to the interstate, but the combination of local traffic and vehicles from the on- and off-ramps contributes to the gridlock.

Brock said he had received positive feedback from community members about the north-south connector.

Motorists should also be able to check traffic conditions on the undercrossing soon. Crews also installed a camera along the undercrossing as part of the Intelligent Transportation System.

The city started offering real-time data from traffic cameras online late last month. Brock said the undercrossing camera should join the lineup as soon as testing is complete.

Though the road has opened to traffic and the mayor has cut the ribbon on the undercrossing, a portion of the project remains unfinished.

In the fall, crews started building a manmade wetland in Emily Darst Park to replace wetlands destroyed by the construction of the undercrossing and a pedestrian link across the interstate at state Route 900.

The wetland project has since stopped for the winter. Brock expects construction to resume in late March or early April.

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

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