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Construction labor strike halting municipal projects

Local 302 walks the picket line. (KIRO 7 image)

More than a dozen public construction projects around the Puget Sound region have ground to a halt. The work stopped when crane and heavy equipment operators went on strike. And there’s no end in sight.

​Five public projects are on hold in Redmond. And that doesn’t include the commercial ones like the housing project on 61st Avenue Northeast.

With the cranes and other heavy equipment idle, most construction work has ceased. The sight greeting drivers along the Redmond-Woodinville Road is of construction equipment not moving.

Resident Nikil Shah said he noticed it.

“Yeah, I did,” he said. “I just thought maybe like schools are out.”

He has felt the effects of construction next to his backyard.

“The traffic in the morning is a big problem because they closed one of the lanes,” said Shah. “So getting on and off the Woodinville Road is a bit of the pain. And we were hoping they’d be done with the work.”

This is one of five City of Redmond projects brought to a halt by a strike by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302.

With crane and heavy equipment operators walking the picket lines, workers in most other construction trades are staying off the job, too.

“The major delay will be a road closure that we had planned,” said Kirkland Public Works Director Kathy Brown.

She says the strike has put two Kirkland city projects that began in June on hold. Water main pipe construction on 120th Avenue Northeast was nearing completion. But traffic signal work on Sixth Street could impact residents most.

“I don’t know at this point if the overall project will be delayed,” Brown said. “And we’re hoping not. And we’re working with the contractor on that. But the road closure which was planned for the end of this month will probably move out a month.”

Nikil Shah will likely have to deal with a delay in Redmond, too.

“It’s been going on for more than three months,” Shah said. “And it looks like it might, I don’t know when that will end.”

Redmond officials say if the strike lasts more than two weeks, four other city projects may be affected, too.

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