Early construction has begun on a 400-apartment complex along the Newport Way Northwest corridor, Issaquah city staff announced Wednesday.
Crews began work earlier this month clearing and grading the site at 2290 Newport Way NW in preparation to pour foundations for the complex’s 18 buildings, once permits are approved.
In an unusual turn for a private development, the Issaquah Gateway Apartments were announced by Mayor Fred Butler at a community open house in July.
The open house concerned pedestrian safety following the death of 4-year-old Haochen Xu at a crosswalk on Newport Way Northwest. At public meetings following the accident, several corridor residents blamed high speed limits and a lack of stopping points for creating an unsafe roadway. Butler assured the audience of the open house that the apartment construction would “change the character” of the traffic corridor toward lower traveling speeds.
Some residents disagreed with that assessment at subsequent City Council meetings, public hearings and community open houses, criticizing the idea of placing more cars on a road with blind curves and high speeds. One Summerhill resident who spoke at an Aug. 2 City Council meeting, Mary Lynch, said she believed the idea wasn’t viable without walkable infrastructure.
“Where are the children going to wait when they need to go on the bus?” Lynch asked. “This is going to dump 600 cars between two blind curves. … How can you continue to develop, to cram stuff into the Gateway Village? How can you let development go forward without adequate infrastructure?”
City Council voted to drop the speed limit on Newport Way Northwest to 30 mph in September.
Criticism of the Gateway project continued at a November open house held to review further proposed changes to Newport Way. Transportation consultant Victor Salemann responded by reasserting Mayor Butler’s sentiment that more cars on Newport Way would change how people drive on it.
“Not everybody may like it, but one of the side effects of higher congestion is slower speeds,” Salemann said.
Traffic impacts from construction will be minimal at the beginning of the project, a city spokesperson said. Work will take place 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and, soon, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. More trucks will enter and leave the roadway at the site come springtime.