Sahalee Way project up for contract vote Tuesday


“The current design includes sidewalks on the west side, bike lanes, two 11-foot travel lanes, and a center turn lane or raised median island where needed. A traffic signal is also included for the intersection at NE 28th Place/223 Avenue NE,” the City writes.

A contract for the design of the controversial Sahalee Way road improvement project is up for a vote at Tuesday’s Sammamish City Council meeting.

Whether approved or rejected, the vote appears it will be a 4-3 split along the usual lines, with Mayor Don Gerend being the swing vote.

The project calls for a sidewalk along one side, bike lanes, a turning lane and additional stop lights between NE 25th and the Sammamish City Limits.

It does not extend to SR202, which is one mile beyond the City Limits. This means no improvements to Sahalee in this section, and this is one reason why three members of the City Council oppose the current plans.

Christie Malchow, who is on the Council’s Transportation Committee, Tom Hornish and Ramiro Valderrama question the $16.5m cost for a project that (1) doesn’t go to Sahalee Way and (2) doesn’t add to road capacity in real terms to solve congestion problems along the corridor.

Members Tom Odell and Bob Keller, who also are on the Transportation Committee, are strong advocates for the project. Odell lives off north Sahalee Way. Keller lives elsewhere in the City, but is lock-step with Odell in pushing for the project.

Members Kathy Huckabay supports the project with Odell and Keller. Gerend expressed support for it in the past as well.

Malchow believes the project should be tabled and considered for prioritization when a citywide transportation planning study is undertaken.

This comes up on the agenda immediately before the Sahalee design contract.

The contract is for $1.575m.

Two open houses are planned to share the design with the public. Design is to be completed by March 2018 with construction to begin later that year.

Staff recommends the three lane option at a cost of more than $12m because a five lane option would cost more than $80m but do nothing to relieve congestion to SR202. The three lane option meets transportation needs only until 2035, the staff says–which is another reason Malchow, Valderrama and Hornish oppose it.

Full details are in the City Council information packet here, beginning on PDF page 123.

6 thoughts on “Sahalee Way project up for contract vote Tuesday

  1. This improvement seems to me to be a tough sell when both the $12m or the $80m option end in the bottleneck where SR202 converts to King County control. Has there been discussion with King County on matching the improvement, on their portion of SR202, down to the intersection of NE Redmond-Fall City Rd? If we don’t have this answer, why spend the $1.575 for the design work?

    • Councilman Odell has been in discussion with the County for a solution, which (unless something new has cropped up) would require Sammamish to pay for that, too. The county doesn’t have the money. The problem is that ordinarily, the city can’t spend money outside its own city limits, though there may be some ways to do this.

  2. My concern is that it does nothing to reduce congestion. It adds a sidewalk very few will use. People will not use the bike lanes on this side of the city because the there are better roads to bike off of and are closer to where people want to bike. Some center turn lanes and a light will help with some of the congestion. But until the County is willing (has the money) to improve the road to 202 we need to step back and save the money.

  3. One must always wonder what people produce in terms of road design. When all is in place the maintenance is always a problem.

    H.W. Maine


  4. I have lived off this section of Sahalee Way for 30 years. And yes the side of the road is used for walking and biking all of the time. Right now walking and biking on that section of road is scary. Crossing the street is like playing frogger and you’re the frog. This has gotten worse over the years. We badly need the sidewalk, bike lane, turning pockets and traffic lights. This project would also connect the sidewalk and bike lane that runs almost the entire length of the city. It would be nice to be able to safely walk to the beautiful Evans Creek Preserve trail head. Now I get in my car and drive.
    I don’t see this improvement as doing anything for traffic congestion. It will, however, make this section of road safer for turning traffic and pedestrians. Over the past decade our neighborhood has lodged numerous complaints to the City about the dangers of this road. I guess you actually have to live in the north section of Sammamish to appreciate how bad this section of road has gotten. I’m afraid our local government will ignore our pleas and focus on only the issues in their section of the city. Its a shame that our kids don’t have the option to walk or bike safely to school or ball fields, or to a friend who lives a quarter of a mile away.
    This project is an important part of making Sammamish a more livable City by providing safe connectivity for all its citizens using all forms of transportation.

    • @Cary raises excellent points. It also raises another issue: the poor messaging from the City and its communications department. While the “messages” have been about traffic congestion, which won’t be solved, it perhaps should be about “safety,” for which there will be undeniable improvements. Then the expense would be more palatable.

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