Off The Press — Traffic plan can’t come soon enough
August 26, 2014
By Peter Clark
Rowley Properties’ construction of the long-stay Homewood Suites by Hilton has brought a massive crane to central Issaquah.
It’s not the first one locals have seen, but it heralds the start of the Central Issaquah Plan, which city officials expect to change the face of the valley over the next 30 years or so.
The crane stands over the western edge of the city and so will hopefully not have any impact on surrounding traffic. However, it represents a symbol of things to come as parcels go on sale and some, like the Atlas project on Gilman Boulevard Northwest, sit in the middle of the permitting process.
Most redevelopments will occur on busy streets that already suffer from strangling traffic on the best of days. If all goes according to the Central Issaquah Plan, those redevelopments will bring substantial construction to central Issaquah, which will probably include further traffic obstructions, such as lane closures, and an increase in large vehicles.
That’s not even mentioning the fact that the plan calls for most of these redevelopments to serve a residential component, bringing even more people into the central area with their cars in tow.
There is good news: The City Council made it a 2015 goal to develop a Transportation Master Plan to help ease the current woes plaguing this fair city and also to prepare for an expanding future. Councilmembers decided this, during a marathon goal-setting meeting in May, as a focus for the following year. They recognized the traffic bane that plagues many parts of Issaquah and decided to initiate a plan to address the concerns from many residents.
And there is bad news: That will all still take a while. This 2015 goal is just to produce a plan, which will take time to initiate. With further concurrency studies, feasibility studies, environmental impact studies and so much more before any solutions take shape, easier travel will have to wait a bit longer.
City officials say the redevelopment of central Issaquah will offer more opportunities to work and shop, which would mean less reliance on vehicles and therefore less traffic. That speculation will have to be proven with time.
In the meanwhile, that yellow crane swishing and lifting over the rising shape of a new eight-story building doesn’t just signal a start to a changing valley, it also increases the need for a comprehensive transportation plan as soon as possible.