Southeast 43rd signal project moving forward

Traffic light, new driveways coming to Providence Point entrances.

The Southeast 43rd Way signal project is moving forward in Issaquah. Funding for the project, which is part of the city’s 2020-2025 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), is included in the city’s 2020 adopted budget.

The project has been the city’s intention for years. In addition to installing a traffic light, the project will realign the driveways to Providence Point and Forest Village — a village of Providence Point that sits across Southeast 43rd Way, creating a new intersection.

The intersection of Southeast 43rd Way with the entrances to the Providence Point neighborhood has been a longtime concern. Many residents have expressed safety worries and frustrations. Citizens have reported many close calls and accidents with unsafe left turn situations. Other concerns relate to speeding drivers and the lack of traffic mitigation. Residents have for years been calling for efforts to ease the flow of traffic in the area.

Currently, cars turning left to enter into Providence Point yield to fast moving traffic. Drivers turning left to exit the neighborhood also experience difficulties doing so.

After the Providence Point area was annexed to the city of Issaquah in 2003, the city completed the Providence Point Transportation Needs Assessment Study in 2004. City staff met with representatives of the homeowners association in the Providence Point community and included $250,000 for the project in the 2005 budget. Since then, a lack of funding has led to the project being halted several times.

The project was picked back up and refreshed in 2018 and is included in 2019 in the city’s CIP.

Mayor Mary Lou Pauly, in her report at the Nov. 18 council meeting, explained that legislation in that evening’s consent agenda authorized an interfund loan from the city’s sewer fund to the capital fund to allow work to begin on the signal project. Pauly said the interfund loan will allow work to commence prior to the city issuing bonds in mid 2020.

The mayor also noted that the final 2020 budget adopted that evening included $7.6 million in funding for the project.

Construction on the project will begin in late winter or early spring of 2020. By the end of the year, the realigned driveways and the traffic light are expected to be open and operational. The project should be fully complete, including landscaping and other elements, by spring of 2021.

The total cost for the project is $8.1 million, including contingency on construction and contract, said project lead John Mortenson, one of the city’s senior engineers.

Mortenson said the two major goals for the project are accessibility and safety.

“The main takeaway on this project is to improve access to the Providence Point community. By installing a traffic signal, it’ll be a lot easier for residents to access Southeast 43rd Way,” he said. “It also makes it easier for pedestrians to cross the street because they’ll have the traffic signal and they’ll have the protected walk sign. Overall, improving access for the Providence Point community, that’s the main purpose of the project.”

He explained the importance of aligning the driveways.

“Right now, the driveway on the south side of the road that goes to Forest Village, it is west of the driveway to Providence Point on the north side of 43rd, and so what we’re going to do is build new driveway accesses for the two sides of the Providence Point community,” he said. “The driveway to Forest Village on the south side will be moving up the hill, or to the east, and the driveway to Providence Point on the North side will be moving west, or down the hill, so that way the two driveways are now across from each other instead of offset from each other.”

He said creating an intersection with a stop light where all four legs meet in one spot will increase overall visibility, decrease the amount of conflicting turning movements and help with traffic flow.

As far as the functionality of the actual traffic light, Mortenson provided some details from the signal plan.

Traffic travelling along Southeast 43rd Way that will be turning left into Providence Point, whether traveling up the hill or down the hill, will have a green arrow or a flashing yellow arrow. They also will have the regular yellow arrow and red arrow for when they need to stop.

Meanwhile cars turning left out of Providence Point also will have a green arrow, but they won’t have the flashing yellow arrow. If they want to go straight across and into the other side of the community, they will have the green light to cross the road.

Project work also will include relocating utilities, building stormwater detention and treatment facilities, and installing new sidewalks from Providence Point west to the current sidewalk in from Providence Ridge. There will be an overlay for the pavement along Southeast 43rd Way to repair the deteriorated pavement.

While construction may result in some temporary lane closures with flaggers, Mortenson said he does not anticipate any full road closures during the project.

“For the most part, we’re going to try and maintain one lane in each direction,” he said.