Sammamish Council approves bridge design for Issaquah-Fall City Road project

In a 6-1 vote, the Sammamish City Council approved the city move forward with a bridge design for the Issaquah-Fall City Road improvement project at its Feb. 7 regular meeting at City Hall.

The discussion centered around whether the city should choose a bridge or a culvert as the stream crossing alternative at the north fork of Issaquah Creek. As part of the project’s roadway widening, an existing culvert will need to be replaced.

In a presentation to council members, Steve Lewis with engineering consultant H.W. Lochner, Inc. shared the pros and cons of each option. Lewis said both had relatively long life expectancies, with the bridge expected to last 75 to 100 years and the culvert 70 to 100 years.

For the bridge, the total cost would come out to $8.38 million. Construction would take up to 14 months, leaving two lanes of roadway open with flaggers, though that timeline could be shortened if the city opted for a full road closure, Lewis said. He added environmental impacts are expected to be low and the bridge option has garnered local tribal support.

Bridge construction would require 1,000 truck loads of earth fill material, or 10,000 cubic yards, to make the road up to standard.

The total cost for the culvert option would come out to $6.82 million. Lewis said the construction period could be wrapped up in four months, though to meet that timeline, the city would have to hold a full road closure. He said the environmental impacts for the culvert were expected to be slightly higher. Culvert construction would require 6,000 truck loads of fill, or 46,300 cubic yards.

Councilmember Christie Malchow, who made the motion for the city to move forward with a bridge, said the community feedback she received was overwhelmingly in favor of a bridge.

“I liken this project to a headache,” Malchow said. “You’re either going to have a mild headache for a long time or you’re gonna have a really bad headache for a short time. Either way it’s painful, but it has to be done.”

Councilmember Ramiro Valderrama served as the lone dissenting vote, opting instead with the culvert option, citing the lower cost and the shorter length of time required for construction.

Lewis stated the total length of the entire project is expected to take two years. A public meeting providing a project update is expected to take place in either March or April and 30 percent design plans are expected to be completed in April.

Another public meeting is tentatively set for June. Project construction is set to begin in 2018.

Council amends code to complete Shoreline Master Plan update

The City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance to amend city code to complete an update of the Shoreline Master Program after a first and final reading on Feb. 7.

Citing time sensitivity for final approval, Valderrama made the motion to forego the council rule calling for a second reading before adoption.

In November 2013, the city sent Shoreline Master Program amendments to the Department of Ecology for review and approval. The department got back to the city last March, calling for three changes, with the city adopting two of the required changes.

The council didn’t adopt the second of the three changes, which called for Sammamish to include the United States Army Corps of Engineers as the determiner of isolated wetlands. As a compromise to the Department of Ecology, the city proposed to remove the isolated wetland pilot program from shoreline jurisdiction, which was rejected.

To have all proposed Shoreline Master Program amendments approved, the city was given the options to remove all references to isolated wetlands from its shoreline regulations or to have its shoreline amendments denied and start over the program process.

The reworking of the compromise required three amendments to Sammamish Municipal Code, which removed isolated wetlands from the shoreline regulatory areas, before final approval.

“I think basically what the Department of Ecology is saying is that they don’t consider a wetland within 200 feet of a water body could possibly be isolated,” Mayor Don Gerend commented.