The Issaquah City Council wasn’t expecting a big crowd for a discussion on the transportation improvement program Monday evening, but it got an earful from residents of the South Cove area.
Gary Costa, the city’s transportation manager, presented a long list of road projects that need attention in Issaquah. Right now, the NW Sammamish Road improvement is No. 18 on the list. South Cove residents say the road is their access to the city – and it’s not safe.
“We have been promised access for decades,” states a petition that has now been signed by 350 residents of the area. “When we voted to be annexed to the city, it was one of the top three items on the list that Issaquah would take care of.”
That annexation was in 2006.
The problem starts at Lakemont Boulevard, where there is a traffic circle, all the way east to what one resident called the “intersection of death,” where NW Sammamish Road meets state route 900 — the “Tully’s intersection.”
If you go straight you’re on 12th, and if you turn right you’re on state route 900. The online petition was created by Tiffany Endres who said those who signed it want this project moved to top priority.
“There is no safe pedestrian access into the city,” Endres said. “There is more traffic now, and commuters will hop off I-90 to use the road.”
She has seen people pass on a double yellow line, and noted that the shoulders often are inaccessible due to water and mud.
John Girt, a 20-year resident of the South Cove area said he will not take his grandchildren on the road. There is no physical separation between car lanes and any sort of pedestrian lane. He said he and his wife walked to Issaquah to the movie one evening, not realizing how dark it would be when they got out. They were terrified, because there is also no lighting, unlike, for example, Newport Way as you head up toward the zoo.
Melody Scherting is an organizer for WAVE, a bicycle ride designed to bring awareness to domestic violence against women. She expects 1,400 women to ride in September this year. The route goes right down NW Sammamish.
“There are many places in Issaquah that are bike friendly, but this is the most dangerous,” she said.
The petition also states “the South Lake Sammamish neighborhoods are the only neighborhoods without safe pedestrian access to the city of Issaquah. Pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages use the shoulder of the road and it’s not safe. There have been pedestrian deaths on the road.”
Councilmember Fred Butler said a needs assessment has been done on the project which looked at accidents, lighting and striping. Costa said the design phase would cost $400,000.
“So would it be of value to put some money into this now?” asked councilmember Eileen Barber, to which councilmember Joe Forkner said it was certainly of value to the audience in attendance.
The council passed the transportation program, noting it’s still early in the 2014 budget process. Forkner said the program is a state funded program, but there could be additional funds for roads from the capital improvement program, which is funding from the city.
On this stretch of West Lake Sammamish Road, just before the state park, there are no sidewalks or curbs for pedestrians. South Cove resident John Girt, said he saw someone traveling in a wheelchair headed toward town, on the shoulder.