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.
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.
May 11, 2010
The next time snow blankets Issaquah — and snarls traffic — drivers might be able to check the municipal website for real-time updates from cameras perched throughout the city.
Officials plan to include the traffic images on the city website within the next several months. The cameras — part of the Intelligent Transportation System — allow engineers to monitor traffic at 26 intersections citywide.
The technology does not allow for streaming video to be posted online. Instead, the images will be a series of photos updated every minute or so.
The city also plans to post real-time traffic alerts to the municipal website and the electronic message boards constructed as part of the system.
Officials hope drivers check the camera feeds and alerts — either from home computers, smart phones or other devices — to gauge traffic before taking to city streets.
The planned upgrades reached the City Council last month. Members agreed to spend $84,000 to post the traffic snapshots online, add monitors for the feeds at the Issaquah Police Department and improve the traffic signal-timing plans through important corridors. The equipment and software to add the real-time images to the city website carries a $49,000 price tag.
December 16, 2009
NEW — 5:15 p.m. Dec. 16, 2009
After heavy rains in November and bitter cold last week, many King County residents would say winter has been here for some time. Winter, however, does not begin until Dec. 21.
The past few days gave residents a taste of what might be in store in the weeks ahead as precipitation and cold temperatures mix.
King County Road Services Division staffers have been on weather patrol for weeks, but ramped it up across this county starting last Friday through Monday looking for icy roads and other driving hazards.
Now is a good time to review winter-weather travel plans with a few tips from the King County Department of Transportation.
November 21, 2009
NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 21, 2009
King County transportation planners want to hear from drivers whose commutes will be impacted when crews replace the aging May Creek Bridge.
Send comments about the planned project to the King County Road Services Division. Comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. Nov. 23.
Submit comments to project manager Jessy Jose, 206-296-1916 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and environmental engineer Peter Drakos, 206-263-0428 or email@example.com. Road Services Division officials will review the comments.
Check out project details here.
June 9, 2009
King County transportation planners want to hear from drivers whose commutes will be impacted when crews replace the aging May Creek Bridge. Planners will host a June 11 open house at Briarwood Elementary School from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
County Road Services Division officials will be available to answer questions and accept comments about the planned closure. Officials hope to close the bridge next summer. Depending on which construction option they choose, the bridge could be closed from two to six months.
Officials will also be available at the open house to talk privately with property owners about concerns related to the bridge project.
May Valley Bridge was built in 1950. Timber supports beneath the roadway have decayed and the bridge has outlived its intended lifespan, officials said. Moreover, the roadway is narrow and constricts traffic that uses the nearby intersection of state Route 900 and Southeast May Valley Road.
Barbara de Michele, community relations planner for the project, said the bridge is “quite past its useful lifespan.
“There’s quite a bit of deterioration that needs to be replaced desperately,” she added.
The replacement bridge would meet modern safety standards. Plans call for the replacement bridge to be 40 feet wide with a 30-foot span. The bridge would include two 12-foot-wide travel lanes. The roadway would be wider and have improved sight lines and wider road shoulders for cyclists and pedestrians.
Jessy Jose, project manager for the May Valley Bridge overhaul, said county officials are considering a full or partial closure for the duration of construction.
A full closure would allow workers to complete the bridge replacement in about two to three months. A partial closure — a more expensive option — would allow vehicles to continue using the bridge during the five to six months of construction.
County officials opted for a partial closure of Bandaret Bridge across Issaquah Creek. The roadway is restricted to one lane over the creek through November while crews build a replacement bridge a few feet away.
Road Services Division officials want drivers to weigh in about May Creek Bridge construction options at the open house, and de Michele said the comments would be a factor in the construction decision. She said 5,800 postcards were sent to nearby residents alerting them to the project and the open house.
County staffers will also coordinate with officials at the Issaquah School District, state Department of Transportation and emergency service providers to reduce the impact of construction.
If You Go
May Creek Bridge open house
Briarwood Elementary School multipurpose room
17020 S.E. 134th St., Renton
Sign up for e-mails about the project by e-mailing Community Relations Planner Barbara de Michele at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or email@example.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.
March 19, 2009
NEW — 9 a.m. March 19, 2009
Traffic on Southeast May Valley Road is restricted to one lane just west of Issaquah-Hobart Road. The closure started at 6 a.m. today.
Crews are replacing the Bandaret Bridge across Issaquah Creek. The roadway is expected to be narrowed to one lane over the creek through November.
A new temporary traffic signal at 230th Avenue Southeast and May Valley Road will allow vehicles to proceed through the construction zone in one direction at a time.
The King County Department of Transportation is overseeing the $5.5 million project.
The existing bridge, near Issaquah-Hobart Road between 230th Avenue Southeast and 231st Place Southeast, carries about 5,100 vehicles daily – too many for an aging, deteriorating structure, transportation officials said.
March 17, 2009
King County officials will limit parking along a stretch of Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast to address concerns related to congestion along the two-lane roadway. The road hugs the base of Tiger Mountain near areas popular with hikers and paraglider pilots.