City Council gives green light to transportation projects plan

July 3, 2012

City Council members approved the roadmap for all city transportation projects through 2018 — a guide to planned street and sidewalk improvements.

In a unanimous decision June 18, council members adopted the Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, a guide to short- and long-term planning for road, transit and pedestrian projects. The document outlines possible transportation projects for 2013-18.

Transportation planners outlined possible improvements to downtown streets, street repairs and other projects in the expansive document.

The list does not include as many big-ticket projects as in past years — a result of council belt-tightening in the municipal budget.

Still, items outlined in the proposal could alleviate traffic congestion and offer motorists a smoother ride — if the city can find dollars to complete the projects.

Municipal staffers list transportation projects in the TIP, and then prioritize the projects through a separate process to fund capital improvements.

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Bill for Interstate 90 bridge reaches $6.7 million

November 1, 2011

The bill for the pedestrian and bicyclist connector across Interstate 90 is costing Issaquah $450,000 more than city leaders budgeted for the project.

City Administrator Bob Harrison (right) and Mayor Ava Frisinger lead Issaquah and regional officials across the Interstate 90 pedestrian bridge Oct. 26. By Greg Farrar

The total budget for the project is about $6.7 million, up from the $6.2 million set aside to complete the bridge across the interstate at state Route 900. The budget increase accommodates engineering expenses, construction cost and construction management cost increases, and legal and permitting fees related to the connector.

The change increases the amount of city dollars used in a project approved in part because the federal government and Sound Transit offered to cover substantial costs.

Construction delays and other issues — such as using off-duty police officers for traffic control near the construction site — caused costs to mount. The city set aside about $314,000 as contingency funds for the project, but the overruns caused the project to exhaust the backup dollars.

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Joshua Schaer is not afraid to disagree

October 11, 2011

On a City Council often united in 7-0 decisions, Joshua Schaer is the occasional outlier.

The councilman opposed a hike in cable rates, a redo along Newport Way Northwest and proposed changes to the same street near Issaquah Valley Elementary School. The opposition earned Schaer a grudging respect from council members — and a reputation for outspokenness.

“I’m not trying to be contrarian, and I’m not trying to be difficult, but you can’t have 7-0 votes on every issue,” he said.

Joshua Schaer

Now, as a candidate for a second term on the council, Schaer highlights the no votes just as much as accomplishments.

The councilman, 33, spearheaded a food-packaging ordinance to require restaurateurs and other food sellers to use compostable and recycle takeout containers and utensils.

The legislation is a signature issue as Schaer heads from door to door to greet potential supporters. Newcomer TJ Filley is the other candidate in the race for the Position 4 seat.

“I can’t take credit for the original idea, because it started in a lot of cities. Portland has been doing it for 20 years. Cities in California have been doing it for many years. Seattle was really the model that I looked at,” Schaer said. “If it can work in Seattle with the size of that city, then certainly it can work in Issaquah, where we are leaders in environmental preservation and sustainability. To be the first city on the Eastside to do this, I think, is a tremendous accomplishment.”

The measure caused some heartburn among business leaders, and the rollout continues to face difficulties almost a year after the ordinance took effect. Still, Schaer said the ordinance is a milestone for a city focused on sustainability.

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TJ Filley aims to shift City Council’s priorities

October 11, 2011

The connector across Interstate 90 at state Route 900 — a $6.2 million bridge to carry bicyclists and pedestrians across the highway — looms large on the landscape and in newcomer TJ Filley’s campaign for a City Council seat.

The city relied on federal and Sound Transit dollars, plus about $350,000 in municipal funds, to complete the project. The connector opened to traffic July 1 after construction delays and cost overruns.

TJ Filley

“When I first saw the bicycle and pedestrian overpass over on 90 being built, I originally thought, ‘Gee, they’re going to do something to make it so that traffic isn’t quite so bad around here,’” Filley said. “Then, after a couple months of them working on it, it started to become apparent what it was.”

Intrigued, Filley, 48, started to research the project to determine the reasons behind the City Council decision to start construction.

“I started looking into the project more and more,” he said. “The more I looked into it, the less sense it made to me.”

The project is not so much the problem as the process, Filley said. If elected, he said he intends to change how the council prioritizes transportation projects.

“It’s not that I’m against having bicycle trails or pedestrian overpasses, but it’s more that I didn’t understand how a project like that was given preference over other projects when Issaquah has some notoriously bad traffic problems,” he said.

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King County commits $70,000 to repair city’s retaining wall

September 6, 2011

King County recently agreed to fund repairs to a decade-old retaining wall along Southeast Black Nugget Road as city planners seek to shore up the structure against landslides.

The city closed the sidewalk along the wall in March after soggy conditions caused a small landslide on the slope behind Fred Meyer and The Home Depot. The shifting earth did not pose a risk to motorists or residences atop the hill, but the incident refocused attention on plans to strengthen the wall.

County officials committed $70,000 for upgrades. The project could cost up to $640,000 for substantial renovations. The city is setting aside funds to complete the project in the years ahead.

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$6.2 million pedestrian bridge opens after delays

July 5, 2011

Protesters carry signs to decry the cost of a pedestrian bridge across Interstate 90 the day the bridge opened, July 1. By Tim Pfarr

The pedestrian bridge at Interstate 90 and state Route 900 opened July 1, months after the expected completed date.

Delays related to the bridge pilings and inclement weather slowed construction on the $6.2 million project.

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Contentious Interstate 90 pedestrian bridge to open Friday

June 30, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. June 30, 2011

The pedestrian bridge at Interstate 90 and state Route 900 is due to open Friday, months after the expected completed date.

Delays related to the bridge pilings and inclement weather slowed construction on the $6.2 million project. The connector separates bicyclists and pedestrians from the busy roadway. The structure includes a 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge across the westbound interstate on-ramp and a 10-foot-wide pedestrian crossing on the state Route 900 overpass.

The city contributed $354,000 to the connector. Federal and Sound Transit dollars covered the remainder.

The bridge is due to open by late Friday, after more than a decade of planning and sometimes-contentious discussions among city officials, transit advocates and trails enthusiasts.

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City raises Southeast Issaquah-Fall City Road speed limit

June 28, 2011

Motorists no longer need to clamp down so hard on the brake on a steep section of Southeast Issaquah-Fall City Road.

On June 20, City Council members raised the speed limit from 35 mph to 40 mph on a section from East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast to the eastern city limits near the 238th Avenue Southeast intersection. The faster speed limit took effect June 25.

City crews plan to post signs featuring the 40 mph limit along the affected roadway. The sign replacement should cost about $350.

Before the decision, planners commissioned a traffic engineering study for Southeast Issaquah-Fall City Road between East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast and Southeast Black Nugget Road, and between Southeast Black Nugget Road and Southeast Issaquah-Pine Lake Road to determine whether a 35 mph speed limit remained appropriate.

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Interstate 90 pedestrian bridge is late, over budget

April 19, 2011

Opening is delayed until at least June

The spindly pedestrian crossover bridging the westbound on-ramp at Interstate 90 and state Route 900 is at least $200,000 over budget and not expected to open until June, months after the expected completion date.

Blame unstable soil at the site and soggy conditions for delaying the connector from April until early summer. The additional construction could increase the $6 million project budget. City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock said planners could ask the City Council to authorize additional dollars for the project, depending on the remaining construction.

“We would like to get it done sooner, but we recognize that this has been a very wet winter, and it just keeps going,” he said.

The long-planned connector at the bustling intersection experienced a construction slowdown last fall after crews needed to dig deeper to find a solid layer to support the piers beneath the bridge. The rain-soaked winter and spring also caused construction to proceed at a slower pace.

Plans call for the completed connector to include a separate 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge across the westbound interstate on-ramps. Crews also modified the existing state Route 900 overpass to install a 10-foot-wide pedestrian crossing.

The city relied on federal dollars and a $400,000 grant from Sound Transit to offset most of the project cost. The city contributed about $341,000 for the connector and is responsible for cost overruns.

Construction on the project started last July.

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Stacy Goodman, City Council appointee, launches campaign

April 12, 2011

Stacy Goodman

Stacy Goodman, a former journalist and attorney appointed to the City Council last month, announced plans April 8 to run for the seat in the November election.

“In just a short time, I see so many issues important to Issaquah and the region where I can represent people and make a difference,” she said in a statement.

Goodman, a past reporter and editor for The Issaquah Press, joined the council after a monthslong search to select a successor to Councilwoman Maureen McCarry.

Because Goodman joined the council a little more than a year into McCarry’s unfilled term, she is running to serve until December 2013, rather than a regular, four-year term.

The novice candidate settled in the Issaquah area in 1989, and moved to Issaquah Highlands in 2006. Before attending law school and joining Issaquah firm Carson & Noel, Goodman covered Issaquah City Hall as a reporter, and later editor, for nine years.

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