County’s proposed road plan calls for limited service on local streets

September 13, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Sept. 13, 2011

Some streets in rural and unincorporated areas near Issaquah could receive reduced maintenance and a lower priority for snow removal under a proposal King County leaders unveiled Monday — a plan County Executive Dow Constantine called “triage” for a cash-strapped and deteriorating roads system.

Dow Constantine

Constantine proposed a plan to prioritize road maintenance, snow removal and storm response on a tiered system.

Important arteries — such as Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast, Preston-Fall City Road Southeast, Southeast Issaquah-Fall City Road and sections of Southeast May Valley Road east of state Route 900 — remain top priorities for maintenance, snow removal and storm cleanup under the proposal.

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Transit prodigy mentors the next generation

May 31, 2011

Thirty years ago, Ted Day was a 10-year-old with an interest in King County’s transit system. By that young age, he had memorized all of the bus routes in the Metro system, and was featured as a transit prodigy in an article in The Seattle Times.

Matthew Neisius (left), an Issaquah High School sophomore, met with Metro Transit Service Planner Ted Day to discuss a future transportation career. Contributed

Fast forward to 2011, and the 39-year-old Day now works for King County Metro Transit as one of the agency’s senior service planners. It is a position that taps into his early passion to “fill in all the big spaces without bus runs.”

The Service Planning group is continually updating Metro’s bus system by adjusting the type and frequency of service throughout the county. It also leads efforts for long-range transit planning and integration of Metro’s service with other transportation agencies like Sound Transit.

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King County auctions used vehicles, including buses, Saturday

May 20, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. May 20, 2011

Pick up a used bus Saturday as King County auctions surplus vehicles and equipment.

Bidding at the semiannual auction of surplus vehicles and equipment is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.

In addition to buses, the auction features pickups, vans, cars and dump trucks. Or, find bridge timbers and other miscellaneous equipment.

The county Department of Transportation manages the auction at 3005 N.E. Fourth St., Renton, near Renton Technical College. The bidding starts at 9 a.m.

Previews continue through 3 p.m. Friday and start again at 8 a.m. Saturday.

County sets $5 as maximum fee for vehicle recharging stations

May 19, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 19, 2011

King County Council members set a $5 fee as the cap for motorists plugging in electric and hybrid vehicles for a charge at county recharging stations.

The ordinance adopted by the council Monday establishes a per-use fee, and directs the county Department of Transportation to set a fee up to $5 per use. The proposed maximum fee is based on maintenance costs, vendor costs and electricity.

“The $5 cap fee approved today should give the economic viability of electric cars a real jolt,” Vice Chairwoman Jane Hague said in a release. “‘Green’ vehicles are the future of transportation and providing commuters with a variety of practical options is definitely a good thing.”

Technological advances make electric vehicles — battery and plug-in hybrids — more economically feasible to own.

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Surprising spring snow dusts city in white

April 12, 2011

Snowfall blanketed the Overdale Park neighborhood in Issaquah late April 7. By Larry Lohrman

Sure, spring started last month, but Old Man Winter returned last week.

Snowfall blanketed Issaquah and surrounding areas — especially neighborhoods in the Issaquah Highlands and on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — late April 6 and early April 7. Surprised residents reported about 1 inch of snow accumulation in some places.

“We’re disappointed by the weather every April — and that can actually last into June, our disappointment with the weather,” said Chris Burke, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle.

Roads remained clear for the April 7 morning commute, although the rain-soaked ground resulting from the increased precipitation snarled Issaquah-area traffic.

Crews cleared a fallen tree from Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast near Issaquah at about 8 a.m., after the large maple clogged traffic and forced motorists to detour.

King County Sheriff’s Office deputies directed traffic. Crews cleared enough of the tree to reopen the road just after 9 a.m. and then remained on the scene to continue the cleanup Read more

Downed tree near Issaquah snarls morning commute

April 7, 2011

NEW — 9:05 a.m. April 7, 2011

Crews cleared a fallen tree from Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast near Issaquah at about 8 a.m. Thursday, after the large maple clogged traffic and forced motorists to detour.

King County Sheriff’s Office deputies directed traffic. Crews cleared enough of the tree to reopen the road just after 9 a.m.

In the meantime, traffic backed up just south of Issaquah city limits. Motorists headed for Issaquah and Interstate 90 used May Valley Road Southeast and state Route 900 to reach the city.

The tree came down after springtime snowfall blanketed the Issaquah area late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Crews continue to clean up the tree.

“With the ground so saturated, it’s not uncommon for the roots to give way, and the tree just kind of falls over,” King County Department of Transportation spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok said.

King County shifts to biennial budgeting

March 22, 2011

Like the state and some municipal governments, the King County Council has taken a step to shift the county to a biennial, or two-year, budgeting process.

Officials said the shift to biennial budgeting extends the planning period for county departments to further examine and define budgets.

The longer timeframe also allows the executive and council to improve program evaluation, enhance performance management and encapsulate cost-savings during the budget process.

The council unanimously adopted legislation to set the schedule for county agencies to transition to a biennial budgeting process. The Department of Development and Environmental Services, the county permitting agency, is on track to join the Department of Transportation in delivering a biennial budget for the 2012-13 cycle.

Voters approved a county charter amendment in 2003 to allow leaders to shift all county departments to biennial budgeting. The council adopted the timeline for adoption Feb. 28.

Leaders expect all nongeneral fund budgets to transition to biennial budgeting for 2013, and all county agencies should deliver biennial budgets for the 2015 King County budget. The spending plan should be adopted in fall 2014.

King County shifts agencies to biennial budgeting

March 21, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. March 21, 2011

Like the state and some municipal governments, the King County Council has taken a step to shift the county to a biennial, or two-year, budgeting process.

Officials said the shift to biennial budgeting extends the planning period county departments to further examine and define budgets.

The longer timeframe also allows the executive and council to improve program evaluation, enhance performance management and encapsulate cost-savings during the budget process.

The council unanimously adopted legislation to set the schedule for county agencies to transition to a biennial budgeting process. The county Department of Development and Environmental Services, the county permitting agency, is scheduled to be joined by the Department of Transportation in delivering a biennial budget for the 2012-13 cycle.

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Press Editorial

November 2, 2010

County cannot wait for rural roads fix

Many of the roads and bridges in unincorporated King County are old and getting older. The money is not there to maintain them. Innovative, new funding models are needed. And elected leaders need the political courage to enact them, even if they are unpopular.

The county’s infrastructure needs are serious and looming, and money is short. But 30 percent to 40 percent of roads could fail in the next decade. Less than 60 percent of the system’s maintenance needs can be met in the next few years with current funding.

The situation should not be a surprise, and yet the county’s recently released Strategic Plan for Road Services reads like it is.

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May Creek Bridge closes from June 21 until August

June 15, 2010

The bridge near the intersection of Southeast May Valley Road and state Route 900 will close June 21 and remain closed for most of the summer, as workers dismantle the aging structure and build a replacement bridge.

King County plans a modern May Creek Bridge to replace the timber-supported, 60-year-old span across the north fork of May Creek. Crews posted signs near the bridge last week to alert drivers to the shutdown and construction. Detour signs will be posted for the duration of the closure.

The replacement bridge will be longer, with wider lanes and shoulders. Moreover, the $1.7 million project has been designed to bear heavier loads.

The narrow roadway on the existing bridge constricts traffic at the nearby intersection of state Route 900 and Southeast May Valley Road.

King County Road Services Division planners started readying for the project several years ago. The agency contacted the state Department of Transportation, emergency-service providers and the Issaquah School District to prepare.

Sara Niegowski, district spokeswoman, said the timing dovetails with summer break. The school year ends June 17 and starts Aug. 31.

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