Issaquah has been taking steps to tackle traffic in an effort to “stop swimming upstream” as the city continues to plan for future growth.
Many factors contribute to the city’s traffic congestion, including local neighbors, location, past community decisions and the region’s desirability. Hordes of people commute through Issaquah daily, causing regional backup issues. Transportation options are currently lacking, so incoming growth may lead to additional traffic stoppage.
“Go Issaquah! was a webpage that was created to help highlight projects that were transportation related for all modes of traffic as part of a proposed ballot measure,” said Public Works engineering director Sheldon Lynne. The ballot measure failed in November 2016, he added.
Go Issaquah! was a collection of projects and proposals undertaken by the city. It is currently in transition as many of the elements have been updated with the Mobility Master Plan, according to communications coordinator Thomas Rush.
“The Mobility Master Plan is a planning effort that the city began earlier this year with a newly formed Transportation Advisory Board — a citizens group,” Lynne said. Go Issaquah! is distantly related to the master plan. It is simply a planning document, he explained.
“We are continuing to work on projects of transportation,” Lynne said. Some projects are still underway to date, he noted.
Thus far, Issaquah has doubled impact and mitigation fees to ensure developers are paying fairly. The fees help pay for the additional facilities needed to serve new development. The city adopted the new fees in January 2015, as noted in ordinance 2733.
It is anticipated that most of the growth in the next 15 years will be focused on the valley floor, as referenced in the Central Issaquah Plan. The plan will guide the long-term evolution of a 1,100-acre commercial core into a more sustainable urban area.
Issaquah has been working with regional partners and neighboring towns, like King County and Sammamish, to minimize congestion that begins outside the borders of the city. Together, the communities are advocating for more bus service, park and rides and eventually light rail in 2041.
The city aims to enhance pedestrian safety, yet few crossings have been improved. City staff and consultants evaluated various pedestrian crossings, using criteria about accident history and changing conditions.
A crossing study from 2015 indicated that two corridors — East Sunset Way and Newport Way Northwest — were also evaluated for possible enhancements.
An intersection at Newport Way is the site of a tragic accident dating back to 2015 when a 4-year-old boy died after being struck by a car. Since then, the city has installed rectangular flashing beacons.
“We have plans for next year to add more improvements to the general area that would help,” Lynne said. Safety concerns need to be addressed before a new trailhead is added to the area, he said.
In order to make it easier for people to get around by foot or bike, the city gathered input from community members to identify future improvements. The Walk ‘n’ Roll Plan is an action strategy to make “walking and rolling” easier to navigate on busy streets.
Road upgrades are intended to help mobility and economic development in North Issaquah. Commuters experience significant delays, especially during rush hours. Roads operating near full capacity impact shoppers, visitors, employees and deliveries.
The city has earmarked $50 million in transportation improvements to combat traffic in North Issaquah.
North Issaquah roadway network improvements include three separate projects. As of 2016, East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast has already been widened. Southeast 62nd Street will be widened in the near future. The project on 12th Avenue Northwest and state Route 900 will include an improved intersection, planned to be completed by 2020.