State Route 520 bridge tolls could divert traffic

December 13, 2011

The state Department of Transportation plans to start tolls on the state Route 520 bridge Dec. 29 — and motorists could experience additional traffic on Interstate 90 as commuters avoid the toll.

The state estimates tolls should cause thousands of motorists to use the I-90 bridges or drive around Lake Washington instead.

Meanwhile, the state is encouraging motorists to set up a Good To Go! pass account.

Purchase a pass at www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo or a $5 sticker pass at participating stores, including Costco, Safeway, Fred Meyer and QFC. Find a list of retail locations at www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo/retail.

The state extended call center hours and hired extra customer service staffers to prepare for the anticipated high volumes of customers registering and activating accounts. Customers can purchase the sticker passes at stores and activate them online.

“Tolling is helping Washington move forward with critical transportation investments and will finance ongoing and future work to replace the vulnerable SR 520 floating bridge and corridor,” state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said in a statement.

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Opportunities abound to see migrating salmon

September 21, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. Sept. 21, 2011

Summer is on the wane and autumn starts Friday, so the time is right for salmon to complete a final journey from the Pacific Ocean to Issaquah Creek and other King County streams.

Though the salmon return so far is generally smaller than the pre-spawning season forecast, opportunities abound to see migrating salmon in the Lake Washington, Cedar River and Lake Sammamish watershed as chinook, sockeye, coho and chum complete a long sojourn.

King County calls the event Salmon SEEson.

Salmon can soon be spotted at parks, along trails and at events sponsored throughout the Puget Sound region. In many cases, naturalists can help visitors spot the fish and learn about the salmon life cycle.

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Serve as a Salmon Watcher during spawning season

August 30, 2011

Salmon should start returning to local creeks soon to spawn, and King County needs volunteers to help collect information about the fish.

Through the Salmon Watcher Program, the county trains volunteers to identify and record species and numbers of spawning salmon in Lake Washington watershed streams. Lake Sammamish, and Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks, drain into the Lake Washington watershed. The program includes numerous monitoring sites along Issaquah and Tibbetts Creeks.

Prospective volunteers must attend a training session. The county has scheduled training sessions from 7-9 p.m. at:

  • Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E., Sept. 15
  • Renton Community Center, 1715 S.E. Maple Valley Highway, Sept. 20
  • Woodinville City Hall, 17301 133rd Ave. N.E., Sept. 22
  • Greenwood Senior Center, 525 N. 85th St., Seattle, Oct. 5

Contact King County Senior Ecologist Jennifer Vanderhoof at jennifer.vanderhoof@kingcounty.gov or 206-263-6533 to learn more.

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King County Districting Committee proposes changes for Issaquah

July 5, 2011

The electoral map could look different for Issaquah voters in November 2012.

In January, King County Council members appointed a team of community leaders to update the map for representation in county government. The team delivered a series of proposals late last month to reflect population changes recorded in the 2010 Census.

“It’s very interesting to see the demographics and to see the changes in our county,” said Terrence Carroll, committee chairman and a retired King County judge.

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King County Council protects Issaquah Creek salmon habitat

May 31, 2011

Critical salmon habitat in the Issaquah Creek Basin is protected for the next half-century — and possibly longer — due to a King County Council decision.

The council members approved a 50-year lease agreement May 16 for 30 acres along Holder Creek and near Carey Creek — tributaries of Issaquah Creek. The wedge-shaped property is along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast, about a mile north of the state Route 18 interchange.

The legislation authorized County Executive Dow Constantine to lease the land from the state Department of Natural Resources at no cost.

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King County Council protects Issaquah Creek habitat

May 16, 2011

NEW — 2:15 p.m. May 16, 2011

King County Council members approved a lease agreement Monday to protect sensitive salmon habitat in the Issaquah Creek basin.

The legislation authorizes County Executive Dow Constantine to sign a 50-year lease for state Department of Natural Resources-owned land along Holder Creek.

“This is a great example of working across jurisdiction boundaries to achieve the common goals of supporting salmon recovery and protecting water quality and open space,” Councilman Larry Phillips said in a release. “This is a win-win that ensures pristine salmon habitat will continue to support a healthy watershed in the Issaquah Creek basin.”

The land is considered by the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan as home to some of the best remaining habitat in the Lake Washington, Cedar River and Lake Sammamish watershed. The creek basin supports chinook, coho and kokanee salmon, plus steelhead trout.

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Consider a seismic retrofit as earthquake insurance

April 19, 2011

Strengthening a residence through a home earthquake retrofit is as simple as ABC: anchor, brace and connect.

Most homes built in the past 30 years or so do not need a retrofit to hold steady in earthquakes, but older homes may need some foundation tune-ups. If the foundation is not secured to the rest of the structure, major damage can result from the ground shaking.

The earthquake in Japan — plus major temblors in New Zealand, Chile and Haiti in the past year — has renewed the focus on seismic safety at home.

“When the earth starts shaking sideways, the foundation moves with the earth,” Sound Seismic co-owner Leif Jackson said. “This big, massive object is not going to immediately move with the foundation. It’s going to kind of lag behind, and it’s going to lag behind when that foundation oscillates back in the opposite direction. So, the house and the foundation get out of synch, and it can get jolted off of the foundation.”

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Nisqually earthquake anniversary jolts memories

February 22, 2011

Issaquah is more prepared now than during 2001 roller

Then-Skyline High School senior Sean Edwards (left) and then-4-year-old sister Quinn leaned over to look inside the cracked asphalt Feb. 28, 2001, as dad Maury looks along a crack in the 1400 block of East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. File

The ground started to shake as Bret Heath stood upstairs at the old municipal public works office — the steel-frame and metal-clad structure used nowadays as the parks department maintenance facility — and in seconds, the building rolled, like a ship tossed on ocean swells.

“I remember thinking, ‘I wonder if this building is going to hold together,’” the longtime Public Works Operations and emergency management director said.

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Group plans upstream Issaquah Creek habitat restoration

February 1, 2011

Salmon and other creatures in the Issaquah Creek basin receive a boost soon from citizens and the Friends of the Cedar River Watershed.

The nonprofit organization has planned creek habitat enhancement projects for Feb. 5. Friends of the Cedar River Watershed needs Issaquah-area residents to participate in the effort.

The restoration is scheduled to take place inside the Log Cabin Reach Natural Area on a section of creek upstream from Issaquah and near the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill.

The daylong program is the inaugural Issaquah-area effort for the Seattle-based Friends of the Cedar River Watershed.

Friends of the Cedar River Watershed is in the process of expanding efforts to restore habitat and educate residents throughout the Cedar River and Lake Washington watersheds. The local project is a collaboration between the nonprofit organization and King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

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Number of returning coho salmon drops

October 19, 2010

Hatchery may not have enough eggs for schools, co-ops

In any given year, about 30,000 coho salmon pass through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard, swimming to rivers and tributaries like Issaquah Creek, on a mission to reproduce before they die.

This year, coho counts are down, with only 3,608 coho swimming through the locks, as of Oct. 6. The Muckleshoot Tribe recorded the last low of 6,000 coho in 2002 and the highest run of 47,000 coho in 2000.

Many of the fish that swim through the locks make their way to Issaquah Creek and the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Others return to Bear Creek, the Cedar River and the other major streams of the Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish watershed.

As of Oct. 18, about 400 coho had arrived at the hatchery, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery Executive Director Gestin Suttle said.

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