DOT fined for failing to protect salmon habitat

May 11, 2010

The state Department of Ecology fined the state Department of Transportation $11,000 last week after environmental officials said the transportation agency failed to take steps to protect Tibbetts Creek salmon habitat.

Officials at both agencies said no habitat damage occurred as a result of the infraction. Crews did not maintain fencing along state Route 900 to keep dirt and silt from entering Tibbetts Creek and tributary streams — habitat for several salmon species and steelhead trout. Silt can damage fish gills, settle into streambed gravel and damage sensitive habitat.

The fabric silt fence set up along the construction site traps mud, but allows water to pass through. Rules require the bottom of the fence to be anchored in the soil, but a Department of Ecology inspector found loose edges three times between last September and February along the mile-long construction project.

Jamie Holter, a DOT spokeswoman, said the fencing becomes loose due to rain and wind. Crews fixed each incident documented by the Department of Ecology within hours, Holter said.

Transportation officials could appeal the penalty to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board or the Department of Ecology.

The widening project has not recorded any other Department of Ecology infractions since work started on the last stretch in August 2008.

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Department of Ecology fines DOT for SR 900 roadwork

May 4, 2010

NEW — 3:17 p.m. May 4, 2010

State Department of Transportation officials failed to take steps to protect water quality during roadwork to widen state Route 900 in Issaquah, the state Department of Ecology announced Tuesday as the agency fined the DOT $11,000.

Transportation crews failed to maintain silt fencing along the mile-long project. The fabric silt fence traps mud, but allows water to pass through. Rules require the bottom of the fence to be anchored in the soil, but Department of Ecology inspectors found loose edges last September and again in February.

The project included work near Tibbetts Creek and tributary streams — habitat for several salmon species and steelhead trout. Silt damages fish gills, settles into stream gravel and damages habitat.

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Workers will close SR 900 ramp, lanes overnight Wednesday

April 28, 2010

NEW — 2 p.m. April 28, 2010

State Department of Transportation crews will close the off-ramp from westbound Interstate 90 to state Route 900 overnight Wednesday.

Workers will close the ramp from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. Signs will direct drivers to the exit at West Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast.

Crews will also close up to two lanes in both directions of SR 900 between Newport Way Northwest and Southeast 83rd Street from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Friday.

The work will take place as crews near completion of the yearslong effort to widen SR 900 and improve access for bicyclists and pedestrians through the corridor.

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Leon Kos will retire from city after 33 years

April 27, 2010

City administrator leaves behind a bigger, stronger Issaquah

Leon Kos

The past three decades can be attributed to — or blamed on — legendary City Clerk Linda Ruehle.

Issaquah needed a new city administrator in early 1977. Leon Kos, a recent Seattle transplant from California, applied for the job.

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Plan for overnight SR 900 closures

April 20, 2010

Crews will close lanes on state Route 900 overnight through April 23 for roadwork. Workers will close up to two lanes in both directions of SR 900 between Newport Way Northwest and Southeast 83rd Street from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The work will take place as crews near completion of the yearslong effort to widen SR 900 and improve access for bicyclists and pedestrians through the corridor.

The state Department of Transportation opened two new lanes on almost a mile of the road between Southeast 82nd Street and Newport Way Northwest on April 14. But workers will wait for drier, warmer weather to add the final layer of pavement and road striping. Expect more activity in the weeks ahead as workers complete the $33.9 million project.

Crews widened the road from Newport Way Northwest to the vicinity of Northwest Talus Drive and Southeast 82nd Street. Narrow shoulders bracketed the old, single-lane roadway.

Workers added a lane in each direction and a left-turn lane in the center of the roadway, as well as a bike lane and a raised sidewalk on the west side of the road.

Crews also installed a synchronized signal system to help smooth traffic for the 16,000 or so drivers who use the road every day. Workers replaced the culverts at Clay Pit Creek and the west fork of Tibbetts Creek as well. The updated culverts should improve fish passage through the waterways and protect against storm damage.

Workers enter ‘home stretch’ in SR 900 construction

February 23, 2010


Afternoon traffic lines up on state Route 900 at Northwest Talus Drive on Feb. 17 as work on the road-widening project nears completion. By Greg Farrar

Frequent closures along a stretch of state Route 900 near Talus could be a memory by late spring, as workers complete the final piece in the yearslong widening project.

State Department of Transportation crews widened the road from Newport Way Northwest to the vicinity of Northwest Talus Drive and Southeast 82nd Street. Narrow shoulders bracketed the old, single-lane roadway.

Workers added a lane in each direction and a left-turn lane in the center of the roadway, as well as a bike lane and a raised sidewalk on the west side of the road.

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New Issaquah Creek flood gauge will eliminate a ‘blind spot’

November 24, 2009

City emergency planners will soon have a new tool to monitor rising flood waters: a new Issaquah Creek flood gauge. Read more

Safety questions surface about I-90 trails link

November 24, 2009

trail-grant-i90-plans-20091A plan to add a bridge over Interstate 90 for bicyclists and pedestrians — a project with a nearly $6 million price tag — drew criticism from City Council members last week.

The project would complete a trail about 1,200 feet long, between the end of the state Route 900 boardwalk at the eastbound I-90 off-ramp on the south side of the interstate, and the Sammamish Trail on the north. But critics said overpasses at other locations would better serve pedestrians, and council members raised safety concerns about the project.

The project would complete a missing link and provide a way for bicyclists and pedestrians to traverse the interstate. The connector would also provide a link for bicyclists and pedestrians to the Issaquah Transit Center, about a half-mile south of the interstate.

The key pieces of the connector would include a separate 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge crossing the westbound I-90 on-ramps and modifications to the existing state Route 900 overpass to install a 10-foot-wide pedestrian crossing. The northern terminus of the project would be Northwest Sammamish Road, while the southern terminus would be the I-90 eastbound off ramp, where the trail would connect with the boardwalk.

Next up: Council Transportation Committee members will discuss a proposal Dec. 3 to accept $400,000 from Sound Transit toward the project. The full council could consider the agreement Dec. 21. Read more

City Council OKs new Issaquah Creek flood gauge

November 23, 2009

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 23, 2009

City emergency planners will soon have a new tool to monitor rising flood waters: a new Issaquah Creek flood gauge.

Though workers will install the gauge early next year, the device will not be calibrated and ready until the next flood season. City Public Works Operations Director Bret Heath said the city would be able to collect data from the gauging station in the meantime.

Heath, who also serves as the city’s emergency management director, said the existing flood gauge arrangement has “a bit of a blind spot.” Heath said the new gauge should fill the gap.

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City reviews last flood, prepares for future crises

November 3, 2009

David Bramwell (left) shovels sand into a bag held by Bruce Wendt in a sandbagging practice run for CERT volunteers last week. Courtesy of Brenda Bramwell

David Bramwell (left) shovels sand into a bag held by Bruce Wendt in a sandbagging practice run for CERT volunteers last week. Courtesy of Brenda Bramwell

Floodwaters caused about $1 million worth of damage and left behind piles of debris and muck when Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks overflowed in January, but the disaster also readied emergency planners for the next flood.

The next time flood waters rise, volunteers will fan out across flood-prone neighborhoods and city officials will unleash a deluge of information about water levels, road closures and recovery efforts. Many of the procedures were tested during what officials characterized as a successful response to the major flood in mid-January.

But the next flood could occur as early as the next several weeks, and officials said work remains to be done to prepare Issaquah for another natural disaster. On Oct. 27, City Council members received a briefing about the response to the January flood and preparation efforts for the upcoming flood season.

City Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Campbell said readings from a pair of flood gauges did not correlate with the damage caused by floodwaters. A U.S. Geological Survey gauge downstream on Issaquah Creek appeared inaccurate, Campbell said. The gauge indicated about 2,500 cubic feet per second, Campbell said, but flood damage was similar to the 3,500 cubic feet per second estimate from the last major flood to hit Issaquah, in 1996. Read more

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