Speculation about the reconstruction of the East Lake Sammamish Parkway (ELSP) is as old as the City of Sammamish itself.
City of Sammamish Senior Transportation Program Engineer, Jeff Brauns, said at last week’s Council meeting that improvements to the ELSP had been on the city’s agenda from the moment of its incorporation in 1999.
The plan, known as Phase 1A, that was unanimously approved at that meeting is the latest formal proposal in a process of public consultation and the study of engineers and town planners that began when the future expansion of the Issaquah and Sammamish area became clearer almost 10 years ago.
As traffic volumes increased, the ELSP became a hot spot for accidents, failing to adequately accommodate not just through traffic but also the intersection of driveways, as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
Although there has been fierce debate about what needs to be done on the ELSP, there seems to be little doubt that modifications are needed.
The argument of some members of the community is that the original plan for the parkway, referred to as Phase 1, was too large in scope and expensive, and thus represented an inefficient use of funds to accomplish the council’s aims.
Hence, Phase 1A was developed in recent weeks, as an abbreviated version of Phase 1.
But what are the features of Phase 1A?
As with its predecessor, Phase 1A is concerned primarily with improving traffic flows and reducing the conflict points between motor vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
The council has also said the reducing polluted runoff into Lake Sammamish is a priority of Phase 1A.
The focal point of Phase 1A is the intersection of the parkway and NE Inglewood Hill Rd, the site of a large number of vehicle collisions, as well as a zone of concern for cyclists.
The key feature of the proposed redesign is the creation of a straight flow through for vehicles heading west down Inglewood and north on the parkway, and the reverse. Presently these vehicles turning on and off Inglewood and heading to or from the north are required to merge into or cross traffic to and from the south.
It is this traffic action that is the cause of the majority of reported collisions.
Another feature of this redesign is the creation of a bike lane along the eastern edge of the parkway and Inglewood.
The redesign maintains an uninterrupted flow for vehicles heading south along the parkway.
Vehicles heading north along the parkway will have to perform a left turn, to be regulated by traffic lights.
Phase 1A will expand the width of the parkway to provide space for a centre turning lane.
The creation of a centre turning lane will address the traffic concerns associated with vehicles turning into the numerous driveways along the ELSP, which are the cause of congestion and traffic confusion.