State highways near Issaquah reopen after crew clear downed trees

January 21, 2012

NEW — 5:30 p.m. Jan. 21, 2012

The slushy sections of state highway near Issaquah left closed after a snowstorm and subsequent ice storm reopened to traffic, state Department of Transportation officials announced Saturday.

State Route 18 from Interstate 90 to Auburn — closed after hundreds of downed trees littered the roadway — reopened at 2 p.m. Saturday. State Route 900 at Southeast May Valley Road reopened Friday afternoon.

“Drivers are anxious to have things back to normal and we are working to make that happen,” said Dave McCormick, Department of Transportation regional maintenance manager.

Crews spent the night removing sand, slush, branches and other debris from storm drains. Flooding could result on roadways as temperatures increase and snow melts.

“Hundreds of trees fell,” McCormick said. “It’s the worst we’ve seen in the last several years.”

Power is still a problem for thousands of residents and Department of Transportation traffic engineers. Engineers cannot see cameras or gather in-road sensor data on large sections of major highways in the region. The agency has backup generators in place at the communications hub, but the power to individual systems is still down. The state has no estimate on restoration of the affected systems.

Downed trees prompt state Route 900, Southeast 56th Street road closures

January 19, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Jan. 19, 2012

Downed trees and power lines prompted road closures on state Route 900 in Issaquah and rural King County early Thursday morning.

Crews responded a downed tree and power lines before 7:50 a.m. between Northwest Talus Drive and the southern city limits. The stretch between the access road to the Talus urban village and the city line remains closed as Puget Sound Energy crews tend to the downed tree.

Outside city limits, in rural King County, the state Department of Transportation said state Route 900 is closed at Southeast May Valley Road due to a downed tree.

In Issaquah, Southeast 56th Street from 229th Avenue Southeast to East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast is closed due to downed power lines.

The closures came as ice weighted down trees and power lines, contributing to road closures and power outages throughout the region.

PSE reported more than 12,000 customers in the Issaquah area without power at 9:55 a.m.

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Voters asked to approve $5.5 million to build fire station

December 20, 2011

Officials said building a fire station in May Valley could improve response times for residents in the Issaquah area.

The issue is due to go before Fire District 10 voters early next year.

Officials plan to ask district voters to approve a $5.5 million bond in a Feb. 14 special election. Fire District 10 is the Eastside Fire & Rescue partner serving residents in Klahanie, May Valley, Preston and Tiger Mountain in the Issaquah area.

Officials plan to use bond dollars to relocate crews from Fire Station 78 from 16135 S.E. 113th Place just outside Renton city limits to a modern facility at a more central location at Southeast May Valley Road and 207th Avenue Southeast. Such a move is meant to shift a fire station about three miles east, deeper into the district.

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Proposed 2012 King County budget touts savings

October 18, 2011

Residents call for human services support at local budget hearing

As the King County Council begins to listen to hours of public testimony at a series of budget hearings, one overall theme became clear at its Oct. 13 session — support human services now, before it’s too late.

Kathy Lambert

Derek Franklin, a Sammamish resident and representative of the Alliance of Eastside Agencies, said the county must begin to formulate a dedicated and stable long-term funding source for human services, such as those aimed at protecting residents from homelessness, domestic violence and inadequate legal counsel.

“Although sometimes obscured by the high socioeconomic status of the Eastside, human service needs here are quite high,” he said during a public hearing at Pacific Cascade Middle School near Issaquah. “We urge the budget committee to establish a long-term fix for the human services safety net. It’s been significantly dismantled over the years by budget cuts, and people … are beginning to fall through the cracks.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine’s 2012 budget proposal earned praise from County Council members for eschewing cuts to services in the general fund — elections, law enforcement and other basic government functions. The overall budget proposal is $5.3 billion, including $648 million in the general fund.

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Off the Press

September 27, 2011

It can’t happen here; yes, it can

Kathleen R. Merrill Press managing editor

“This kind of thing doesn’t happen here,” people always say when some tragedy, especially one involving violence, occurs in a community.

I heard the phrase again and again Sept. 24, because that kind of thing doesn’t happen in Issaquah either. Until it did.

I was shopping in Maple Valley when a friend called to tell me there was a gunman on the loose in Issaquah and she couldn’t get into town because of all of the police officers blocking the streets.

Despite the fact that her voice was crystal clear, I immediately said, “What? Can you say that again?”

Same thing — gunman, downtown Issaquah, cops everywhere with guns drawn, helicopter flying overhead. She then asked if I was OK. (I live downtown.) I felt stunned for a moment. Were my pets OK at home? Could I even get there? Did I want to go there? How would I know if the gunman was inside the house or hiding on the property?

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AT&T proposes adding equipment to cell tower

September 20, 2011

King County is considering a proposal from AT&T to add antennae and equipment to the existing cell tower at 10200 Renton-Issaquah Road Southeast, about a mile northeast of the intersection of the street and Southeast May Valley Road.

AT&T applied to the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services to add two antennae, six remote radio heads, three lines of cable and a surge arrestor to the tower.

The agency is in the process of determining if the proposal meets county code.

Residents can send comments about the proposal to DDES — Building and Fire Services Division, 900 Oakesdale Ave. S.W., Renton, WA 98057-5212. The public comment period ends Oct. 3.

Citizens can also review the application at the Renton office.

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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Local cell tower projects clear King County hurdle

August 16, 2011

The separate proposals to add equipment to cell towers in Issaquah and May Valley cleared a regulatory hurdle in early August. So, too, did a proposal to construct a cell tower in Klahanie Park near Challenger Elementary School.

AT&T applied to the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services to add three antennae, six remote radio heads and a surge protector to the cabinet on the Issaquah and May Valley towers.

Crews intend to add equipment on the existing towers near the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club, 23600 S.E. Evans St., and 18011 S.E. Renton-Issaquah Road, less than a half-mile southwest of the intersection of the street and Southeast May Valley Road.

The county permitting agency is handling the application for the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club site because the shooting range is a county island surrounded by Issaquah and is near Issaquah High School.

The telecommunications company also intends to build the Klahanie Park tower. Plans call for cedar fences of up to 6 feet tall to ring the base.

County planners determined the projects do not require environmental impact statements — a thorough review to assess how a project could impact the surrounding environment.

The decision, or determination of nonsignificance in planning parlance, is not the last step in the process. The county must still issue building permits for the projects.

Residents opposed to any of the cell tower projects cannot appeal to the Department of Development and Environmental Services, but instead must direct appeals to King County Superior Court.

AT&T proposes adding equipment on towers

June 7, 2011

King County is considering proposals from AT&T to add antennae and equipment to the existing cell towers near the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club, 23600 S.E. Evans St., and 18011 S.E. Renton-Issaquah Road, less than a half-mile southwest of the intersection of the street and Southeast May Valley Road.

AT&T applied to the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services to add three antennae, six remote radio heads and a surge protector to the cabinet on each tower.

The county permitting agency is handling the application for the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club site because the shooting range is a county island surrounded by Issaquah and is near Issaquah High School.

The agency is in the process of determining potential environmental impacts of the projects. Residents can send comments about the environmental impacts to DDES — Building and Fire Services Division, 900 Oakesdale Ave. S.W., Renton, WA 98057-5212. The public comment period ends June 20.

Residents can also review the applications and any environmental studies at the Renton office.

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

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