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$14 million N.E. 85th Street project delayed up to a year
The projected $14 million N.E. 85th Street Corridor Improvement project scheduled for completion in 2012 could face up to a year delay.
The project will span from 114th Ave. N.E., under the 405 overpass and up to 132nd Ave. N.E. at the Redmond City border will balance access for cars and buses and provide coordinated streetscape improvements. Construction was to begin last fall but will not start until the first quarter of 2010.
Sound Transit is contributing $3.7 million to the project, which will improve access for riders of Route 248.
“Frankly we are struggling with this project and we are behind schedule,” City Manager Dave Ramsay told the Kirkland City Council at a June 2 meeting. “The number that really got my attention is that we need to acquire 93 separate right-of-way takes … I believe this is three times larger than any project we have undertaken in recent memory.”
The project has run into two major problems, including the project’s sheer size.
“Slater Avenue was the nearest comparable project and that was $5 million,” said Ray Steiger, City of Kirkland Capital Works project manager. “We have spent $2.5 million to date on design and other elements of the project so we are moving along.”
In comparison, the city had to obtain 15 right-of-way takes – the most the city has obtained for one project – during the N.E. 124th Street project by Totem Lake Mall. The process takes a long time because the city has to negotiate with the property owner for land use, such as a sidewalk.
“This is a mega project for us,” said Steiger, who cited just the right-of-way access to be $1.5 million of the plan’s budget, and 65,000 feet of acquisition. “Right now we are dealing with 60 commercial properties.”
One thing that might speed up the project is the possibility that control of N.E. 85th, which is also known as State Route 908, might be transferred from the state to the cities of Kirkland and Redmond.
The transfer would give the city more control over some of the larger issues concerning the project, said Steiger, who hopes the transfer will take place before construction begins.
The second problem that contributed to the delay was the transition from the original design consultant, Garry Struthers and Associates (GSA) to a new design consultant, KPG Inc. With the growth of the project and addition of under-grounding more utilities, city staff thought that the first design consultant was not equipped to take on the project as it grew, Steiger noted.
The project goals include increasing transit speed, reliability and ridership on N.E. 85th Street from 114th Ave. N.E. to 132nd Ave. N.E., providing for compatibility of the corridor with both of the adjacent North and South Rose Hill neighborhoods, balancing access for cars and buses and providing coordinated streetscape improvements. Other objectives are to enhance overall pedestrian safety, aesthetics, and support the economic revitalization of the corridor.
Along with the improvements, all of the overhead utilities will be relocated underground between I-405 and 128th Ave. N.E. and a conduit will be installed for future redevelopment conversion from 128th Ave. to 132nd Ave.