City Council gets earful over preference for Issaquah-Fall City Road improvement

June 11, 2016: The Sammamish City Council got an earful from a resident about a six year wait to improve Duthie Hill Road on the City’s Northeast side.

“I don’t think you are hearing my level of frustration,” said Robert Nielson, 2311 277th Ave. SE, following an explanation by Council Member Tom Odell about efforts to reach an agreement with King County that would allow Sammamish to take over County-owned portions of Duthie Hill Road.

“We were told this six years ago when we were annexed into the City. In six years, nothing has happened. So why should I believe you now?”

Nielson attended a May 12 Open House Sammamish held about the planned widening of Issaquah-Fall City Road along the Klahanie area. Officials promised Klahanie this widening would be a priority if the area annexed to Sammamish. It did, effective Jan. 1. City officials have moved swiftly to keep this promise. Nielson objected to the lack of improvements for the balance of this major arterial east of Klahanie, where the road becomes Duthie Hill Road.

City officials view the entire corridor as a multi-phased project, with the Klahanie section the first phase.

“Phase 1 will really help you,” said Mayor Don Gerend. Nielson interrupted. “Excuse me, I’m sorry, it won’t. One third of the road is where I have to travel, along with everybody from Trossachs and Montaine.”

“I was very disappointed to learn once again there are no plans to make any improvements east of Issaquah-Beaver Lake Road,” Nielson said.

When the Aldarra and Montaine neighborhoods annexed to Sammamish in 2010, residents were promised Duthie Hill Road would be improved, he said. Six years later, there is still no commitment to do so.

Nielson said that the City’s response is always that the section of Duthie Hill Road fronting an area called the Notch—which is unincorporated King County—remains outside the City’s jurisdiction

to improve the road, thus preventing continuous improvement from Aldarra, Montaine and Trossachs west.

Sammamish previously tried to persuade King County to alter the Urban Growth Boundary line, which currently excludes the Notch, to put it inside the UGB. This would allow Sammamish to annex it, officials say, and proceed with road improvements. The County has so far refused.

“I think there are a number of possible solutions to be implemented,” Nielson said, without naming them. “I would like to know what Sammamish is doing to solve the problem. Are we in Trossachs, Aldarra and Montaine going to continue to be treated as step-children and not have our needs resolved?”

Council Member Tom Odell responded that there have been many meetings with the County to resolve this issue. “To date, we have had no luck,” he said. “King County has been unwilling to bend on the Notch issue because of several other notches around King County.”

Odell said that in more recent times, 800 miles of road maintenance costs around the county, including this Notch, “are beginning to eat them alive, and they are becoming more receptive” to turning over the right of way of those roads involved. The Notch is one and Sahalee Way from SR202 to the Sammamish City Limits is another, Odell said, along with 244th from SR 202 to the City Limits. Odell said that a fourth local street is Duthie Hill from SR 202 to the City Limits.

Alternative Route

Another resident of the area has started an on-line petition has been started, suggesting a link from Trossachs Blvd. around Soaring Eagle Park to Main St. The idea is not new–it existed in the 1990s before Sammamish was incorporated as a perimeter road around the park, then known simply as Section 36. The petition, by Trossachs resident Sunit Kavathekar, says in part:

There is a single road connecting people living in the Trossachs area to the rest of the world. The Comprehensive Development Plan for the City, drawn up well before all the new housing near Soaring Eagle Park came up, envisaged a “collector” road connecting Trossachs Boulevard to E. Main Street in Sammamish. Such a road would put the Sammamish City center within 2 miles of the Trossachs. The Safeway on 228th would be a mile closer than the QFC in Klahanie. Most importantly, Fire, Police and Medical emergency vehicles could get to the Trossachs area very quickly. It would enable numerous commuters to access public transportation on 228th Ave NE and would cut hundreds of thousands of car miles traveled per year (think about the tons of carbon emissions eliminated).

The petition, created on June 5, only has two supporters so far.

Soaring Eagle Perimeter Road

The perimeter road would skirt Trossachs, the Plateau Golf Club and another subdivision. In some areas, wetlands may be affected.

At one time, King County proposed connecting Trossachs Blvd. with Main Street with a road that would have bisected Soaring Eagle Park along where the Pipeline Trail exists today. Ball fields were proposed in the center of the park. These plans were scotched in favor of a passive park. The County and Sammamish did agree to transferring 30 acres (depicted at the bottom of the illustration) to then City for ball fields. None has been adopted yet by the City.

1 thought on “City Council gets earful over preference for Issaquah-Fall City Road improvement

  1. The council has heard from many people over the years about this topic, in writing and in Public Comment.
    One example:
    July 21, 2015 Regular Meeting of the Sammamish City Council
    Go to 26:33
    (yes, I mistakenly said “Seattle” and not “Sammamish”. Rookie error.)

    Article referenced:

    In later city council meetings, the SE Issaquah-Fall City Road plan was referred to as a phased project, with the SE Duthie Hill Road section to be looked at in Phase 3.

    The critical bottleneck right now is along the Klahanee PAA and is Phase 1. According to the city’s website, “Construction is scheduled for Summer 2017 or Summer 2018, depending on grant funding applications.”

    There is plenty of time — and no imminent plan by the city — to improve SE Duthie Hill Road, including the sections of roadway currently owned by King County (not only the Duthie Hill notch portion of the road but also the stretch between Aldarra and SR 202 — that hill down to Aldarra Golf Course will take a bit of cash to shore up and improve and is currently owned by King County).

    For the city council to say that the solution lies solely on the annexation of the notch is overly simplistic. Besides, the cost of adding sidewalks, bike lanes and turn lanes, culvert replacement, moving utilities, etc., beginning at SE Issaquah-Beaver Lake Road, past Tibbetts Station and High Country then on to Trossachs, is well beyond what our city can afford without grants, bonds and/or tax increases.

    Another consideration and additional costs for the City of Sammamish: improvements on connecting streets between Windsor Heights and Trossachs through the notch.

    Stubbed roads from Trossachs and Windsor Heights will be connected due to annexation and many homes will be built within the notch adding to problems of over-crowded schools and congested roadways. Again, for the city council to focus on annexation as a means to improve SE Duthie Hill Road is myopic, at best. Where is the transparency here on how the city will address the concerns expressed repeatedly over the years by many residents?

    I thank the city council for finally listening to the needs of the SE corner of our city. We’ve been waiting patiently since incorporation in 2000.

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