Group recommends funds for Issaquah-area road projects

September 13, 2012

NEW — 8 p.m. Sept. 13, 2012

Planners recommended $1.1 million Thursday to complete road projects in the Issaquah area, including upgrades to Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast and Southeast May Valley Road.

The projects could garner a small slice of more than $440 million in federal funds proposed by the Puget Sound Regional Council — the planning authority for King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

The planning agency is considering transportation improvements throughout the region.

In the Issaquah area, planners proposed $824,586 to preserve Southeast May Valley Road from state Route 900 to 229th Avenue Southeast in unincorporated King County.

Planners also recommended $315,414 for road overlay, or paving, along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast.

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Outside panel to advise King County Council on arena proposal

June 12, 2012

King County Council members tapped a panel of experts to guide the council and offer independent analysis as officials review a proposal to build a $490 million Seattle sports and entertainment arena.

Council Budget and Fiscal Management Committee members held the initial hearing on the arena proposal May 29. The committee discussed the timeline for arena construction and possible costs to taxpayers, in addition to the terms outlined in the proposal.

The outside panel is comprised of members versed in economics, public finance, public-private partnerships, labor, urban development and transportation.

The members include Justin Marlowe, a professor at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Affairs; urban developer Steve Orser; UW geography professor Bill Beyers; economist Dick Conway; Tracey Thompson, secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 117; Charlie Howard, transportation planning director for the Puget Sound Regional Council; and former state Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald.

The amount of public support for the arena is capped at $120 million if organizers secure only the basketball franchise. The total could rise to $200 million if a hockey team is added to the equation.

King County Council starts to delve into arena proposal

May 29, 2012

NEW — 11:55 a.m. May 29, 2012

King County Council members tapped a panel of experts to guide the council and offer independent analysis as officials review a proposal to build a $490 million Seattle sports and entertainment arena.

Council Budget and Fiscal Management Committee members held the initial hearing on the arena proposal Tuesday. Members discussed the timeline for arena construction and possible costs to taxpayers, in addition to the terms outlined in the proposal.

Committee Chairman Joe McDermott announced the expert panel. The panel is comprised of members versed in economics, public finance, public-private partnerships, labor, urban development and transportation.

“The panel’s participants have graciously volunteered their time and expertise to help us fully understand the benefits and risks of this proposal,” McDermott said in a statement. “This is a comprehensive panel — with skeptics among it.”

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Council approves transportation plan

May 24, 2011

Proposal outlines repairs to weakened retaining wall

City Council members laid out a roadmap for Issaquah transportation projects May 2.

The council 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 2012-17.

“Having a project on the TIP makes it eligible for certain types of funding, but more broadly, it signals to the community what improvements we’re considering for the future,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said before the unanimous decision.

The city Public Works Engineering Department lists transportation projects in the TIP, and then prioritizes the projects through a separate process to fund capital improvements.

Transportation planners outlined possible improvements to the timber retaining wall along Southeast Black Nugget Road behind Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

Some timbers started to dislodge, rot is prevalent, pressure distorted some pilings and the fence atop the wall is failing. The city attributes the problems to shoddy construction. The timber was cut too short and too thin for the area. In addition, the structure was not properly treated.

King County could provide some funding to offset the estimated $496,000 repair cost.

“We’ve been talking with King County for a couple of years now, and we’re very close to reaching an agreement with them whereby we can receive some funds fairly quickly, with the possibility of additional funds over an undetermined period of time,” Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock told the council.

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Dollars steered to economic development projects

May 24, 2011

King County leaders scrapped the outdated Economic Enterprise Corp. and directed funds from the program to economic development programs throughout the region.

The legislation approved May 2 by the County Council directs almost all of the $95,000 remaining in the corporation to be disbursed to smaller projects.

The beneficiaries include $10,000 for the Puget Sound Regional Council — the planning authority for King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties — to update a regional economic strategy and $20,000 for the county Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

“This small investment can make a big difference for our economy,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, a co-sponsor of the legislation and the Issaquah representative, said in a release.

Created in 1984, the Economic Enterprise Corp. issued industrial revenue bonds to economic development in the county. The agency issued bonds totaling more than $48 million and created more than 600 jobs.

State lawmakers created the Washington Economic Development Finance Authority in 1990. The statewide agency served the same purpose as the county’s Economic Enterprise Corp. Eliminating the county agency eliminates duplication and saves money.

Leaders steer dollars to economic development projects

May 6, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. May 6, 2011

King County leaders scrapped the outdated Economic Enterprise Corporation and directed funds from the program to economic development programs throughout the region.

The legislation approved Monday by the County Council directs almost all of the $95,000 remaining in the corporation to be disbursed to smaller projects.

“Standing on the cusp of economic recovery from the greatest recession of our lifetimes, we need to invest in solutions that will help us build prosperity and get people back to work,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a release. “These one-time funds can help lay the foundation for job creation now and in the future.”

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Issaquah growth center proposal raises questions

May 3, 2011

The nascent proposal to add almost 5,000 residential units to the business district in a pedestrian- and transit-friendly hub received a skeptical reception from city planning commissioners last week.

The city is considering a proposal to add a regional growth center in a bid to attract dollars for transportation and mass transit to Issaquah. The initial plans outline such a hub in 915-acre Central Issaquah, the commercial area spread along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The long-term blueprint for the Puget Sound region calls for areas designated as regional growth centers. The designation helps officials plan regional transportation infrastructure and determine the best sites for economic development.

The centers also receive higher priority for state and federal funding in order to connect the regional hubs — a crucial selling point.

Still, Planning Policy Commission members raised questions about a proposal to create a regional growth center and add up to 4,650 residential units in a dense neighborhood.

“I think the biggest question is, do we want to do this?” Commissioner Joan Probala asked during the April 28 meeting. “Because when we decide that we want to do it, you’re looking at changing the rest of the areas to some extent, and you’re going to encourage building to happen there” in the targeted area.

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Muni League honors transit group, councilman

February 1, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine congratulated Issaquah Councilman Fred Butler and other members of a transit task force last week for receiving a prestigious honor from the Municipal League of King County.

The recommendations from the 28-member Regional Transit Task Force represent a potential roadmap to long-standing differences related to Metro Transit bus service. The group released the report to county leaders in November.

The group has received the James R. Ellis Regional Leadership Award for the effort, the Municipal League announced Jan. 27.

“We asked 28 local leaders to set aside arbitrary political divisions and come up with transit recommendations that meet the needs of the entire county, and they exceeded all expectations,” Constantine said in a statement. “That takes real leadership, and I’m pleased to see their hard work and vision recognized by the Municipal League.”

The award honors individuals and organizations for contributing significant leadership in tackling regional public policy problems. The league recognized task force members for efforts “to clarify and organize the priorities and implementation processes for local transit during a time of budget reductions.”

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King County transit task force receives top honor

January 27, 2011

NEW — 1 p.m. Jan. 27, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine congratulated Issaquah Councilman Fred Butler and other members of a transit task force Thursday for receiving a prestigious honor from the Municipal League of King County.

The recommendations from the 28-member Regional Transit Task Force represent a potential roadmap to long-standing differences related to Metro Transit bus service. The task force released the report to county leaders in November.

The group has received the James R. Ellis Regional Leadership Award for the effort, Constantine announced Thursday.

“We asked 28 local leaders to set aside arbitrary political divisions and come up with transit recommendations that meet the needs of the entire county, and they exceeded all expectations,” he said in a statement. “That takes real leadership, and I’m pleased to see their hard work and vision recognized by the Municipal League.”

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Undercrossing opens to link north and south Issaquah

December 21, 2010

Crews completed the Interstate 90 Undercrossing last week and opened the north-south connector to traffic Dec. 16. By Greg Farrar

The link between north and south Issaquah opened to traffic Dec. 16, after years of planning and months of construction.

The long-planned Interstate 90 Undercrossing — Fourth Avenue Northwest — runs from a traffic signal at the post office along Northwest Gilman Boulevard, connects into the rail corridor behind Gilman Station, forms a T-shaped intersection at Southeast 62nd Street, continues along 221st Place Southeast and then terminates at Southeast 56th Street.

Crews experienced a last-minute delay last month, after the installation of bridge safety railings lasted longer than expected. The city planned to open the connector around Dec. 6, but the slowdown prompted planners to update the schedule.

The link supplements traffic-clogged Front Street North and state Route 900, the other connectors between north and south Issaquah. Both older crossings also provide access to the interstate, but the combination of local traffic and vehicles from the on- and off-ramps add to the gridlock.

Because part of the undercrossing is located within the King County East Lake Sammamish Trail Corridor, the link also serves as a multimodal facility.

Pickering Trail also crosses Fourth Avenue Northwest at a signalized crossing, and then connects to the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

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