Sammamish official asks how Issaquah-Pine Lake Road project can be funded while city plans spending spree

It’s a very odd statement, reported by The Sammamish Review this week: the City doesn’t have the funds to complete improvements for Issaquah-Pine Lake Road.

The Review wrote, in part:

Councilwoman Nancy Whitten wanted the city to reprioritize a plan to improve Issaquah-Pine Lake Road between Klahanie Boulevard and Southeast 32nd Street. The project is on the improvement plan with an estimated cost of $16.5 million. However, it has no start date assigned, and Whitten hoped it would begin sooner.

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Whitten noted that the road needs to be fixed, even if the city does not end up annexing Klahanie.

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City Manager Ben Yazici agreed the road needs work, but said the city does not have funds to complete the project.

This strikes us as a very odd statement, since the City has a nine-figure spending spree that seems to be rising at every opportunity.

It’s also odd since the City boasts of no debt, more than $400m in bonding power and a cash balance in the tens of millions of dollars.

Be that as it may, The Review’s reporting wasn’t quite as cut-and-dried as all that. In watching the June 17 City Council meeting video cast, Whitten asked that improvements for I-PL Road, particularly for a sidewalk because of the presence an elementary school near the round-about, be accelerated in the City’s Transportation Improvement Plan. The TIP plans for road and transportation projects in the next six years and is a state requirement.

This portion of I-PL Road is well down the six year plan; Whitten would like to see it happen sooner.

Yacizi noted that this is a $16m project and asked Whitten how she would pay for it, to which she replied from developer impact fees and road funds.

A fair interpretation is the inference is that is that funds are scarce, which as noted above seems an oddity given Sammamish’s financial condition and frequent official boasting of our sound financial planning.

Whitten has a point: the presence of the school and the fact that I-PL Road is a major arterial for commuters does seem to justify advancing the project. Yacizi promised to put some data together for consideration in next year’s TIP.

Still, I wonder about priorities recommended by Staff and set by the Council. A new sidewalk, bike lane and road improvements were recently completed for 244th Ave. between SE 24th and SE32nd. The reason this project was done, perhaps, is because the street fronts the Beaver Lake Park baseball fields, but I don’t believe this section has nearly the traffic I-PL Road, and it certainly doesn’t have an elementary school.

 

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