Flaggers temporarily stop traffic on SR 900 to allow a truck safe access to the work zone. View more SR 900 construction photos.
Our phone lines lit up with calls from drivers wanting to know the cause of the delay and what WSDOT was going to do about it.
We learned that crews from WSDOT, Puget Sound Energy and the City of Renton were all working along SR 900 at the same time. Not to mention it was the first week of school for the Issaquah School District.
Within 24 hours we held an emergency meeting with the City of Issaquah and came up with a plan to coordinate lane closures and keep traffic moving.
Here is a blog entry about the work we are doing on SR 900 so you can get a better understanding of the project and how it will affect and benefit drivers.
– Broch Bender, WSDOT Communications
Two things pop into my mind when I think of Issaquah: Salmon Days and traffic congestion. While our traffic engineers may know little about how to pull off a famous festival, they do know a thing or two about how to reduce the notorious traffic bottleneck on SR 900 near I-90.
About 36,000 vehicles travel on SR 900 to and from I-90 each day. In 2004 our crews widened the roadway, and provided some congestion relief for SR 900 drivers through Issaquah until they reach Newport Way.
Now road construction crews are back on SR 900, also known as Renton-Issaquah Road SE, to finish the job.
(Another big project just down the road is steering Renton drivers to the already popular route, at times adding to construction backups. More on that later.)
We're on track to add a lane in each direction, doubling capacity on SR 900 from Newport Way to just south of Talus Drive. This will make it easier for traffic to get to and from I-90.
The widening project is expected to take about a year and a half to complete. We know a lot of drivers depend on this road to travel through Issaquah, so we are working to limit lane closures and traffic slowdowns.
This month, crews are expanding the bridge over Tibbetts Creek about a half-mile south of Newport Way. We're also building a retaining wall just north of Talus Drive.
Drivers can expect to see flaggers.
A couple times an hour, crews will funnel traffic into one lane at both locations weekdays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. while construction trucks and equipment move in and out of the area.
Look for electronic message signs at both ends of the project for current wait time information. Delays are expected to last no more than five to ten minutes at a time.
Crews also will close the southbound right-turn lane to Talus Drive for the next month or so to help create a safer work zone for our orange vested folks.
Our closures have not affected traffic too much. However construction crews from the City of Renton have closed Duvall Avenue NE/Coal Creek Parkway to traffic between Sunset and SE 95th Way for approximately one year as part of the City of Renton’s Coal Creek Widening Project.
A lot of drivers are taking SR 900 as an alternate route to avoid Renton's ripped up roads.
On top of all that, utility and tree service crews within a mile or two of our work zone, near May Valley Road, also are conducting periodic lane closures. This might cause northbound SR 900 traffic slowdowns weekday mornings after 9 a.m.
At the end of the day, Issaquah and the surrounding areas are growing by leaps and bounds and we need to widen our roadways to accommodate this growth by increasing capacity and hopefully speeding up drivers’ commute times.
Besides wider roads for commuters on two legs, in a few weeks we'll make things better for commuting salmon. All this with Salmon Days just around the corner on Oct. 4 and 5.
We'll replace an aging, narrow culvert beneath the roadway at Clay Pit Creek at the south end of the project. In its place, a big, new fish-friendly culvert will be installed. When we say big, we mean BIG. This thing is 47-feet long, 8-feet wide and 6-feet tall, about the size of a semi trailer.
Check back in two weeks for the next slap of the fish tale and the upcoming temporary road closures.
Drivers can find out more about the SR 900 widening project and related lane closures by visiting http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ .
September 22, 2008 - UPDATE - Due to changes in the project construction schedule, The SR 900 crew have postponed their fish culvert replacement at Clay Pit Creek until spring 2009. I'll keep you posted. --Broch