Parkway out, sidewalks in for transportation plan

June 1, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: June 1, 12:34 p.m.

The end of the East Lake Sammamish Parkway project is finally in sight. On May 13, the Sammamish City Council heard a proposal to remove the plan from the city’s six-year transportation plan, closing the book on the controversial road project.
At the same time, the city took steps to make good on its promises regarding an agreement with Issaquah surrounding the annexation of the Klahanie area.
Last year, the Sammamish council made a change to the way it calculates traffic, which will allow the parkway to be left in its current state and not force a building moratorium in the city.
Without the change, the city needed to show it at least had a plan to address traffic on the parkway at some point in the future.
Now the city is free to remove the project from its six-year plan, formally called the Transportation Improvement Plan.
In addition to removing the parkway, city engineer Jeff Brauns proposed removing a project on 218th Avenue, since it’s also unnecessary under the new calculations. A plan to add sidewalks along Sahalee Way will also be removed as its own project, and will instead be incorporated into a different road project on Sahalee Way.
Finally, a project to improve traffic light coordination along 228th Avenue will be removed because it is scheduled to be completed this year.
Brauns suggested adding on projects to the TIP, including a capacity-adding plan for Southeast Fourth Street between 218th and 228th avenues, which is needed to help accommodate projected growth from the Town Center project.
Brauns also suggested adding a sidewalk project along a portion of 212th Avenue between Southeast 24th Street and the Crossings at Pine Lake subdivision.
Finally, Brauns called for a big-ticket item to be added – but he isn’t sure yet how big the ticket will be. He proposed adding improvements to Issaquah-Fall City Road between Southeast 48th Street and Klahanie Drive Southeast.
The final projected cost of widening the road to five lanes will be established as the city continues studying the stretch of road.
The road is not yet within the city limits. However, as part of an agreement for Sammamish to speed up the annexation of the Klahanie area, the city was required to make the project one of its top-four transportation priorities.
Adding it to the TIP is a first step in fulfilling those terms. Also, placing it on the plan means the project would be eligible for grant funds.
The five-lane configuration, Brauns said, accounts for all planned development at the Issaquah Highlands, including a possible expansion of Swedish Medical Center and Bellevue College’s satellite campus.
If everything in the plan were constructed within the six-year time frame, the projected cost would be just under $50.3 million, a 28 percent increase. That does not include any funding for the Issaquah-Fall City Road improvements, expenses that are likely to exceed $10 million.
However, the total also doesn’t account for outside funds that would bring down the total cost. The proposal projects a 24-percent increase in revenue from sources like impact fees and grants.
Additionally, six-year plans such as this are fluid and, essentially, a wish list. The Sammamish council will still need to approve each project individually as part of its normal budgeting process.
The council is set to hold a public hearing on the plan and take a vote July 1.

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