September 28, 1998
SR-203 to be part of north-south freeway study
by Lisa Allen
Valley View Editor
DUVALL--Since the 1960s, plans for a new north-south freeway on the Eastside have been kicked around from time to time. On each occasion, the plan was dumped, mainly because of public opposition.
This spring, state Sen. Jim Horn, R-Mercer Island, asked the legislature to take another look at an additional freeway, due to the traffic loads on I-5 and I-405.
Horn said in March that in his opinion there just aren't enough lanes to keep traffic moving on those roads and that he wanted a new freeway study to include existing roads coming off I-90 such as SR-203 or 202 in the Snoqualmie Valley and along Lake Sammamish.
He said a proposed freeway could tie into Highway 18, and pass through North Bend, Carnation and Duvall to U.S. 2 in Monroe.
Last week, a state Department of Transportation planner told the Duvall City Council that the legislature has allocated $500,000 for a new "East King County Corridor study."
DOT planner Craig Stone said the money is for an "I-605 feasibility study that will focus on north-south travel needs in the east county, from Lake Washington to the foothills."
Stone told the council that the "I-605" designation was "something coined in the '60s and not a federal designation," and that the original version in 1968 went from Auburn to Bothell.
"Years later, 148th in Bellevue was studied until public opposition forced the DOT to drop it," he said.
In 1971, Stone said, the legislature didn't want to drop the issue entirely and funded another study that focused on the Sammamish Plateau.
Stone said up until the '90s there was really no justification for another freeway, because of the low population in the area.
But there have been significant changes in the '90s, he said.
"Those changes included the end of the interstate era, with more decisions made locally, the fact that the Growth Management Act and land use have defined change and the Clean Air Act, which we are close to exceeding the limits of," he said.
"Since 1987, it is like we have added the population of Spokane to the area. There has been huge growth in employment on the Eastside. Polls say traffic congestion is one of the top issues."
He told the council that one of the problems is the fact that grid systems are not being developed, adding that grid roads will be studied, along with the possibility of more Park 'n Rides.
"One of the key issues will be to assess travel markets," he said. "We will be asking land use questions and laying the groundwork for the merits of each proposal to report back to the 2000 legislative session."
He said consulting teams will be hired to address concerns and issues and that he would be working closely with the Valley cities in the studies.