Adventures in getting from point A to point B
April 16, 2013
By Peter Clark
I have seen a number of mixed signals in the past few weeks regarding the transportation situation in Issaquah.
As I affiliate with this beautiful place and meet with as many people as I can to gain context, I have heard repeatedly about the snarled traffic situation and the lack of public options. More than that, I have seen it. Only two months in and I’ve spent my fair share of time on Front Street.
The first matter arose two weeks ago when Metro Transit released the news that, without additional funding, bus lines in Issaquah face deletion or revision next year. With education the big issue in the Legislature, Sen. Mark Mullet called transportation consideration an “uphill battle.”
On the other side came the announcement last week that north Issaquah road improvements were included in the state capital budget. Through building new roads and improving others, the Economic Development Department hopes to help ease the congestion in that area, at least.
Two weeks ago also brought the news that the city decided to combine the council Transportation Committee with the Utilities, Technology and Environment Committee. This decision did not come from a lack of focus on transportation, but rather in an attempt to more efficiently manage government time. I understand the impetus, but worry that it shoves that infrastructure question further into the background.
In the Economic Vitality Commission meetings, as it works through a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats tool to define where those lie in Issaquah’s future, transportation infrastructure was one of the first and most agreed upon weaknesses. As the city plans to move forward into the future with the Central Issaquah Plan, the need to adjust the transportation infrastructure for the developing city is apparent. Unfortunately, although leaders have discussed a number of solutions, a cohesive strategy seems like it has yet to emerge.
I am still extremely new to the town and the community around it, and I have no doubt that city leaders have this issue squarely in view. I have seen few concrete goals for infrastructure solutions, however, and some of the developments that have manifested in the past several weeks have sounded slightly troubling.
The Central Issaquah Plan, I have been told many times, is an ever-evolving, exploratory document that will adjust and conform to the needs and issues that arrive with the city’s growth. I respect that and very much simply appreciate the approach at managing the growth. I certainly understand as well that the city direction must be chosen carefully with limited resources and knowledge of how the future will unfold. The fact remains that present and upcoming transportation problems must be addressed. The fascinating questions faced by the city are when and how it will respond.