Issaquah commits up to $3 million for WSDOT I-90 project

Issaquah has committed as much as $3 million in funding for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) Interstate 90 auxiliary lane project.

As part of the project, WSDOT will build a retaining wall along Northwest Sammamish Road and provide the city with the right-of-way for future widening. The project is planned to run from Southeast 51st Street to 5220 Northwest Sammamish Road.

WSDOT’s auxiliary lane project is part of the Connecting Washington program to facilitate traffic flow on I-90 between Issaquah and Eastgate. Additional capacity will be created on the highway through auxiliary lanes in both directions.

The city was notified of WSDOT’s request for funding in January.

According to the council’s staff report, WSDOT would only draw from the city’s funding if the project cost exceeds the state agency’s maximum budget. The city would not receive an invoice, or if some funding is needed the city would receive a smaller invoice.

Public works director Sheldon Lynne said the retaining wall will be necessary to support the hillside as the new lane is built.

“It has to hold up the hillside that holds up I-90,” he said. “To widen Northwest Sammamish Road into the right of way gives us additional space.”

Lynne also said the agreement notes that no money would be paid unless the retaining wall element is built.

While the city does not yet have funding in place to immediately begin on Northwest Sammamish Road improvements, Lynne said the council is evaluating funding mechanisms for that work to be done.

With the city council authorizing the agreement to provide $3 million, WSDOT plans to open construction bids in April and, depending on the bids received, work could start sometime this summer.

Councilmember Chris Reh was concerned that the agreement was not the best use of the $3 million, which could be used in other ways to promote connectivity in the city.

Councilmembers Maraih Bettise, Victoria Hunt, and Stacy Goodman spoke in support of the agreement and the contribution of funding from the city. The connectivity access point along Northwest Sammamish Road has been a long-desired community request, they said.

The city council approved the funding in a 6-1 vote, with Reh dissenting.