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December 15, 1997

Local News

City admits partial fault on Trib 90, but still wants county to design guard rails

   by Andrew Walgamott
   WOODINVILLE--The mailman might have to cool his heels in Trib 90 before the back-and-forth procession of letters between the City of Woodinville and King County on safety fixes for the troublesome creek ends. The two have been corresponding regularly over fallout from the joint $400,000 stream-widening project along 148th Ave. N.E. near the Hollywood Hill Schoolhouse. The city contends that the project has created a vehicle and pedestrian safety problem, while the county said if the city wants to fix that with guard railing, it should design it themselves. And while drivers and walkers along that busy street await a solution, only orange barricades stand between the road and a five to seven-foot drop into the creek bed in some places.
   The latest missive comes from Roy Rainey, Woodinville's city manager, who last week responded to a Nov. 26 letter from the county. He writes that the city is partially at fault for failing to provide safety measures on the project. Comparing county-provided project history and city data, Rainey says, "that information, together with our own records, indicate that we are at least equally to blame for the lack of vehicle and pedestrian accommodation and safety in this project. Our only concern now is to provide adequate safety improvements in order to rectify our mutual oversight." But, Rainey says designing those features is not up to the city to do as a letter from Pam Bisonette, county Department of Natural Resources director says.
   Following a November city-county meeting Bisonette wrote that the two agencies agreed to "install a guard railing along the open channel adjacent to the [schoolhouse] based on the City's design and construction staking." Rainey argues that "engineering design and construction activities are, according to the terms of the Interlocal Agreement, the exclusive responsibility of King County, and that the City has no interest or intention to take over that responsibility by designing or staking guard rail." Rainey writes that as soon as the county drums up designs, the city will review and permit those plans.
   But Larry Gibbons, a DNR manager, said the interlocal didn't cover guard railing, terming it "a post-project item" that was "never included in plans. "We specifically asked them if they wanted guardrail," Gibbons said, adding that the city thought a two-foot shoulder would do instead. But, reportedly, King County traffic engineers have begun designing guard rails. As for culverting Trib 90 along 148th, an option Rainey proposed, the county doesn't support the idea given maintenance problems and opposition from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Rainey pitched installing perforated metal bridge decking for the reach. "Such installation could well form a permanent solution and avoid additional expense," Rainey writes. Gibbons couldn't comment on the proposal at the time. The letter-writing began in early November with Rainey's oft-quoted "public relations nightmare, public works fiasco" correspondence.