Sammamish is a lot like Seattle, at least when it comes to geography dictating how and where roads can be built. But where Seattle has water, Sammamish has cliffs.
With more and more people moving east of Sammamish and using city roads to access I-90, the area can’t handle the growth without making major infrastructure investments. Sammamish also just annexed the Klahanie Neighborhood, adding more residents needing good ways in and out.
“Sammamish is interesting because we’re very island-esque up here,” Sammamish City Councilmember Christie Malchow said. “As you mentioned, we’re up at elevation and our north-south and east-west ways off of the plateau are very limited right now.”
Malchow says the city is moving ahead with a major project to fix one of the daily chokepoints — the grind on Issaquah-Fall City Road, which people use to get to I-90.
“It is one lane in each direction and during peak times in the morning and afternoon it is a parking lot,” Malchow said.
An average of about 22,000 vehicles use the route every day. The city plans to double the capacity of the road, widening a two-mile stretch between Klahanie Drive and Issaquah-Beaver Lake Road.
Malchow says the city will make the road two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane, where appropriate. She says it should greatly reduce the daily backups.
The road also goes over the North Fork of Issaquah Creek, where the culvert needs to be replaced to maintain salmon habitat.
“Years ago, there was a beaver that dammed up the culvert … so the bridge option alleviates the concern for a beaver doing that kind of damage,” Malchow said.
Malchow says the city picked a bridge instead of simply replacing the culvert, even though it is more expensive because it means less fill needs to be trucked in. She says it’s a better environmental answer.
Construction is set to begin in 2018. Residents will need to prepare for 14 months of construction chaos.
“There’s no doubt this project is going to hurt,” Malchow said. “It is going to be painful as we go through the construction process, but I’m hopeful it’s short-term pain for long-term gain.”
The project will also add a roundabout in the area and improved crosswalks.
Another public meeting on the project is scheduled for June.