I-90 tunnel to connect city, help business

It’s been a frustrating season for an Issaquah cafe, as construction and road closures on a new Interstate 90 undercrossing have taken a toll on sales.

However, Julia’s restaurant managers are among many business owners anticipating that the new crossing could encourage business at Gilman Village.

“It’s a huge tunnel that’s been opened for us,” said Virginia Merrill, owner of the retail shop Buddha Belly.

The new road, about three-quarters of a mile long, is slated to open by the end of the month, said project manager Todd Christensen.

It will become the third road that allows commuters to cross I-90. But it’s the first without freeway access, making it friendlier to locals, he said.

Merrill is looking forward to the crossing, because of how it will improve Front Street congestion.

Although construction traffic has gotten her store noticed for the first time, overall traffic causes many residents north of the highway to be hesitant to travel south, she said.

“If small businesses can make through the storm, this is really good,” she said.

Construction began late spring 2010 under an I-90 bridge that already exists.

It connects Gilman Boulevard, intersecting at Gilman Village.

Julia’s, which sits on the new intersection, has already made plans to build a new sign to attract customers traveling along the new road, said manager Elyssa Mudd.

“We’re hoping once it opens, we’ll have more business than before,” she said.

The project also included a new road for the Issaquah post office, which is along the new road south of I-90.

The connection will make mail delivery easier for carriers headed toward Sammamish, said Cindy McCracken, the postal officer in charge.

Business for the post office isn’t expected to rise with the new accessibility. The location is already really busy, she said.

The construction cost the city about $2.1 million, Christensen said. “It’s one that’s been in the planning stages for a long time, probably 15 years or so.”

I-90 Undercrossing

The I-90 highway undercrossing in Issaquah is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month. It includes pervious sidewalks.

Celeste Gracey/Issaquah Reporter