City Council adjusts undercrossing budget

March 8, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Interstate 90 Undercrossing

The budget for the Interstate 90 Undercrossing received some adjustments from the City Council late last week to account for cost overruns.

The council had authorized $2.96 million to complete the north-south connector. The council increased the total by $16,000 in a unanimous decision Feb. 22.

The increase uses unallocated project dollars, funds from utility companies and city dollars set aside for a traffic-calming program.

The council awarded the initial construction contract for the undercrossing last March, and then awarded a construction contract for another piece last July.

The project required more excavation than planners had anticipated in order to build a stable base for the roadway.

Planners did not anticipate the additional excavation based on the soil conditions at the site. The rain-soaked summer exacerbated the problem.

In addition, utility companies asked to install lines in a trench created as part of the undercrossing project.

The city is to be reimbursed $152,370 from the utility companies. The city has so far received about $110,000 — funds the city intends to account against undercrossing expenditures.

The decision to shift dollars from traffic-calming projects means the city can study potential projects in the months ahead, but plans are to defer work into future years.

The dollars from the traffic-calming fund create a $5,000 reserve fund for the undercrossing.

Council Transportation Committee members discussed the legislation last month. The committee recommended transferring the funds received from the utility companies and the traffic-calming fund to the undercrossing project.

The undercrossing — or Fourth Avenue Northwest — 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.

Construction started last May and vehicles started using the road in December.

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.

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

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