Speakers raise South Cove concerns at Transportation Improvement Program hearing

July 2, 2013

By Peter Clark

Thirty-five projects were on display at a June 17 public hearing to discuss the six-year Transportation Improvement Program.

Improvements to Northwest Lake Sammamish Road garnered all of the public comment as residents around South Cove asked for higher priority for pedestrians.

Road widening, intersection improvement and pedestrian corridors are included. The projects are staggered through 2019. The total cost of the projects is estimated at more than $384 million.

The highest priority is the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program, to address neighborhood concerns for safety.

“The Transportation Improvement Program is a state program that allows cities to submit a list of projects that they would like funding on,” Councilman Joe Forkner said. “If the state has the funding, they will look at that list of projects and say, ‘We have funding for this. We’ll award it to Issaquah.’ If it’s not on that list, they won’t fund it.”

City Transportation Manager Gary Costa said 11 projects came from discussions about the Central Issaquah Plan. The Council Infrastructure Committee arranged the projects by level of perceived importance and recommended the finalized list for council approval.

“The Transportation Improvement Program is not required to be prioritized,” Costa said. “The main reason is to be able to use that federal and state funding appropriately.”

Eight South Cove residents who attended the hearing had their own priority — Northwest Lake Sammamish Road improvements.

“We are the only neighborhood with no safe access for pedestrians in our city,” resident Tiffany Endres said. “We are asking for it to be pushed up to top priority.”

The lack of sidewalks, safe pedestrian distance from traffic and insufficient drainage are reasons to increase the priority of the project, she said. Several citizens also discussed wanting safer passage for families to Lake Sammamish State Park.

Endres said she presented a petition signed by more than 300 people to the city clerk requesting sidewalks.

“When we were annexed, it was one of our top three items that were requested and we were led to believe that the city would take care of it for us,” she said. “It’s never been taken care of. Pedestrian routes on Northwest Lake Sammamish Road are not requested to make it more aesthetic, but to make it safe.”

Councilman Joshua Schaer, a South Cove resident, agreed about the city’s assumed responsibility to make improvements and said a reprioritization would have to come later. He said after state and federal funds were awarded, and the city approved its 2014 budget, the list of projects would go back to the Infrastructure Committee. There, discussion could come about changing the priority of the 35 listed projects.

“There is a fairly limited pool of money and it really is a bit of a competition,” Schaer said. “The good news is that it’s on there. The bad news is that it’s not on there soon enough.”

 

On the Web

See the complete list of TIP projects at http://bit.ly/11VuPYV.

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