College Drive construction starts soon in highlands
April 26, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Construction should start in early May on a road to access the Bellevue College satellite campus planned for the Issaquah Highlands.
Crews plan to start staging equipment and clearing land for Northeast College Drive soon. City permits for the project need to be issued before roadwork can start.
Plans call for the road to snake for about a half-mile behind Grand Ridge Elementary School and link to the existing street grid at Central Park. In addition, the road through The Highlands at Wynhaven apartment complex is due to be improved and turned into 15th Avenue Northeast. College Drive is planned to form a T-shaped intersection at 15th Avenue.
The road should be completed at about the same time as the start of the 2011-12 school year.
Though the project is not far from the Grand Ridge Elementary campus, the road is not designed to alleviate congestion during busy mornings and afternoons at the school.
“Will it improve the circulation in front of Grand Ridge Elementary during drop-offs and pick-ups? It should improve it,” city Major Development Review Team Program Manager Keith Niven said. “Is it going to fix it? No, but it should make it better because it gives people another choice.”
Maple Valley-based J.R. Hayes & Sons is the general contractor on the project.
The project uses no funds from the city or highlands developer Port Blakely Communities. Instead, dollars for the project come from the $2 million set aside for highlands transportation upgrades in the landmark deal to preserve Park Pointe.
The transfer of development rights from the highlands to the Park Pointe site near Issaquah High School enabled the city to open land for a possible college campus. The city completed the complicated transaction in late March.
Bellevue College could break ground on the highlands parcel in the near future, although construction on the campus could stretch for decades.
Nearby residents, and Grand Ridge Elementary employees and students, could face the most impacts from College Drive construction. The south access path to the school from Central Park is due to close until the fall.
Parkgoers should also expect short-term closures along the Central Park access road throughout summer.
Crews also plan to build bike lanes and sidewalks alongside the road. Plans call for Eddie’s White Wonder dogwood trees — Issaquah’s centennial tree — to be planted along the completed street.