Issaquah City Council approves transportation plan

As getting around Issaquah proves to be more challenging, the Issaquah City Council approved the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) at Monday's regular council meeting.

East Lake Sammamish Parkway will get widened, along with sidewalks and room for bicyclists, following approval Monday night of Issaquah’s Transportation Improvement Plan by the City Council. The big ticket project will extend the parkway from Southeast 56th Street to just north of Issaquah-Fall City Road.

The majority of the money for the project is coming from grants. The city obtained $3.4 million from the state transportation improvement board; a $2 million grant from the Puget Sound Regional Council is pending, but looking very positive, according to Sheldon Lynne, the city’s director of engineering.

Projects likely to be done this year include traffic calming projects, which are based on requests from neighborhoods, at $19,000; street overlays which are based on a schedule of need, $390,000; complete streets program, an annual fund set aside for non-motorized networks at $620,000; and replacing the Dogwood Bridge at a cost of $212,104.

The East Lake Sammamish Parkway widening is part of the North Issaquah Transportation Network Improvements. Other pieces of the improvement project include a new road with a roundabout at 62nd Street and 221st Place Southeast, which will add another access to the Pickering Place retail area. That will be in the planning stage while the East Lake Sammamish Parkway project is being built, which will likely not begin until 2015, Lynne said. The final phase of the project, the 56th Street/12th Avenue Northwest exchange, will be planned when the roundabout project gets underway.

A public hearing only brought comments from residents who live in the South Cove area, who say they are concerned about Northwest Sammamish Road, which has no sidewalks and no bike trail. South Cove was annexed to the city in 2006 and residents were told the road issue would be addressed. The recession changed those plans.

Last year, Tiffany Endres, who spoke at Monday’s meeting, circulated a petition begging the city to make Northwest Lake Sammamish Road a priority. The petition was signed by more than 367 residents. Now, the city has allocated $50,000 for a study on how to improve the road and make it safe.

“There are more people on the road now, both pedestrians and cars, and no one pays attention to the speed limit,” Endres said. She said in the ‘70s, when the traffic wasn’t near what it is now, two bicyclists were hit by cars on the road, and killed.

Also $190,000 has been budgeted for 2015 to shore up the retaining wall on Southeast Black Nugget Road.

Councilmember Joshua Schaer, who is also the chair of the council’s infrastructure committee, mentioned Metro bus route 200 in Issaquah, which is on the chopping block because of the failure of Proposition 1. The route is a free circulator route in Issaquah. Schaer said if the route is eliminated, $50,000 will be freed up from the Issaquah budget to look at other options such as van share, ride shares or contracting with other jurisdictions or private entities.

“Getting people to a key hub is important,” Schaer said. “Staff will be looking at anything and everything for a solution.”