November 2, 1998
City, county, state meet on Hollywood intersection, Trib 90
by Andrew Walgamott
WOODINVILLE--The question: Could King County help Woodinville with a key intersection in the Sammamish Valley?
The answer: We can, but we have no money for it.
That's what King County officials told the city during a forum that addressed the intersection of 148th Ave. N.E. and State Route 202 and Trib 90, a stream in the area.
It was half the answer Woodinville wanted, though it will pursue, after a suggestion from the county, grant money from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work on Trib 90.
"It gives us a chance to save some city dollars for doing the intersection that we'd otherwise have to use for the stream," said Deborah Knight, interim public works director.
Recognizing they can't improve the intersection by themselves, Woodinville officials sought out, and got, the ear of King County Executive Ron Sims. He, along with County Council Chair Louise Miller, county staffers, and representatives from the state departments of transportation and fish and wildlife, attended the forum last Tuesday night at the Sammamish Valley Grange.
The city wants to improve the roads around the Hollywood Hill Schoolhouse to help traffic flow. Right now, traffic routinely backs up from N.E. 145th St. south to N.E. 124th St., according to Councilman Randy Ransom who commutes that way to work.
"It's a unique intersection," says Ransom, pointing to the slight north-south curve. "Because of the signal, northbound traffic is stopped while southbound goes through," as well as vice versa.
Not only is it congested for motorists, but it has also halted some development plans. The intersection operates at what is known as Level of Service F, with a connotation as bad as a report card F. Development won't be permitted nearby unless a deep-pocketed developer cares to improve the intersection themselves, or the city identifies a plan to do so.
"People have things they want to do down there in the Tourist District," said Mayor Don Brocha. "The projects are something the city supports. If [the intersection] is left as is, we wouldn't be doing our job."
The city recently told a Woodinville resident they couldn't permit her specialty retail complex across from the schoolhouse because of how much traffic the project would add. A plan for a luxury hotel and restaurant next to Redhook is moving forward, though, because the developer told the city it would route its customers away from the intersection.
Concurrently, Entranco, a consultant for the city, is producing a design capacity report on the crossing which will put forward several options to the City Council for possible inclusion in its six-year plan.
A big part of the equation is Trib 90, which involves the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and possibly King County Parks, depending on whether the creek is moved.
"You can't improve the street without the stream," Knight notes. "And you can't do anything with the stream without improving it."
Trib 90 flows out of King County into Woodinville next to 148th Ave. N.E., and back into King County. It drains into the Sammamish via a hanging culvert. To improve 148th requires widening, but Trib 90 is on the east side and there's the stymied Apple Farm Village proposal to the west.
Though there's some speculation that Trib 90 has never held fish, a representative from the state Fish and Wildlife Department said his agency likely wouldn't allow the creek to be covered for more than it takes to cross the road.
Some funding could come from an Army Corps of Engineers grant to bring the culvert to river level. Knight said the city will talk with Bothell and Redmond about bundling other projects together to attract the Corps' interest.
While Knight said a grant could "free up city resources," it still leaves a pricey construction project. A possibility for that, Knight said, was Referendum 49. She said state officials have indicated to her that if it passes they'd like to look at working on State Route 202, two legs of the four-way intersection. Voters decide on the referendum this week.
King County Council Chair Louise Miller said any solution with the creek will have to include private land owners.
With a puzzle-solver's gleam in her eye, Knight said, "It's a beefy project with a lot of players and a not easily solved solution." She said Entranco was chosen to look at the intersection partly because an employee there worked on the relocation of Bear Creek for the Redmond Town Center.
Last week's forum came about after Woodinville Councilwoman Barbara Solberg approached Executive Sims during an August luncheon.
Solberg, who expressed appreciation that the county, state and local business people attended the meeting, looked forward "to continuing our team-building, partnering with all of these different entities."
"It impacts all of us," she said at the meeting. "We're looking for a mutually beneficial solution."
"You've got that from us," said Sims, who was echoed by Miller.
Later, Solberg said it was a sign of a maturing city to recognize that it can't do everything on its own but must work on a regional basis.
"We're increasingly taking our place at the table," she said.