Plethora of transportation improvements on tap for Issaquah

A host of pedestrian, bicycle and road improvements won approval at a Feb. 16 Issaquah City Council meeting.

A host of pedestrian, bicycle and road improvements won approval at a Feb. 16 Issaquah City Council meeting.

The council followed recommendations from a Feb. 4 Council Transportation Committee (CTC) meeting to move forward with the construction of the SR-900 Regional Trail, improving pedestrian and bicycle connections for residents across the Interstate 90 overpass.

The project will complete a 1,600-foot pedestrian and bike path and bridge from the end of the boardwalk which currently stops on the western side of State Route 900 at the I-90 off-ramp, and link it to the Sammamish Trail that runs along NW Sammamish Road. The city agreed to enter into a construction agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), which owns the right-of-way and air rights over I-90.

The project was not unopposed, however. Residents continue to have concerns that the city is not appropriately mitigating the impacts of road and pathway development on the floodplain and wetland area to the north of I-90, close to Issaquah Creek and Lake Sammamish.

CTC members Joshua Schaer, Fred Butler and Mark Mullet were informed WSDOT was considering an enlarged pedestrian island at the SR 900-I-90 off-ramp junction. The redesigned island would align with the existing lanes and allow better sight lines for merging motorists, while pedestrians would have a better defined crossing area.

The city also approved entering into an interlocal agreement with Bellevue and three other Eastside cities to place wayfinding signs along a network of cyclist routes stretching from Issaquah to Bothell. The signs, which resemble the green and white highway signs on area motorways, will indicate the distance and direction to major points of interest, parks and towns, which were identified by the city and local cyclist advocacy group Getting Around Issaquah Together (GAIT).

The city will spend just under $5,000 in exchange for 134 signs worth $34,000. The balance was paid through a grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program and the Complete Streets project.

Still under consideration is a multi-million dollar road and drainage project to improve traffic flow and safety along Newport Way between Sunset Way Northwest and Maple Street Northwest. Several residents from the Coho Run Homeowner’s Association voiced concerns at the Feb. 4 CTC meeting about any road expansion near their homes, situated on a private road which runs off of Newport Way. They were concerned that moving the road further east would endanger several shade trees and reduce their privacy.

“We’d prefer to see nothing done,” said Coho Run resident Rose Yamada.

Eastside Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Wes Collins also expressed concerns over a two-lane option with intersection roundabouts, explaining they could slow repsonse times. He supported the installation of “mountable curbs” for the roundabouts that fire engines could drive directly through in the event of an emergency.

“If it was up to us, we like big wide roads with no traffic lights and plenty of parking,” Collins said.

Residents have an opportunity to offer public comment on the Newport Way road improvement project at a Feb. 23 Council of the Whole meeting following a presentation by the Public Works department.

A measure of bad news from the Feb. 4 CTC meeting came from King County Metro spokesperson David Hull, who said Transit NOW funding couldn’t be used this year to the implement Route 200 expansion, after the City Council had not included it in their 2010 budget. Issaquah could start an expanded service as early as February 2011, pending Council approval of funding.