The RapidRide B-Line bus is seen at the Bellevue Transit Center. Terry/The Herald

The RapidRide B-Line bus is seen at the Bellevue Transit Center. Terry/The Herald

Major changes coming to I-405 — your input is critical | From the Council

Open house about project set for April 26 at Lake Washington High School.

  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018 6:23pm
  • Opinion

There are major changes planned for I-405 in Kirkland and now is the time for you to learn more about the projects and provide your input.

Most businesses and residents in Kirkland will be affected by two projects: the Bus Rapid Transit station on I-405 at the NE 85th Street interchange; and the addition of freeway on and off ramps at NE 132nd Street.

These projects are extremely important to the entire community. Together they represent over $300 million in infrastructure investments and support access to the city’s two main urban growth areas – Totem Lake and Downtown Kirkland. These are challenging projects that are significantly constrained by cost, topography and environmental impacts. We need your help to ensure they are designed to best serve Kirkland’s needs now and into the future.

The new Bus Rapid Transit station planned for NE 85th Street is part of an entire system of planned improvements along the I-405 corridor designed to provide faster and more reliable bus connections going from Shoreline to Tukwila. The improvements are funded by the voter approved Sound Transit 3 initiative.

Plans for the station include new, specialized buses, running every 10 minutes during the peak periods, with multiple doors for fast entry and exit. Riders won’t have to climb steps to board; they will board directly from the platform. Fare payment will happen at kiosks prior to boarding and new dedicated bus lanes will give priority to transit.

Decisions are being made now about major design elements of the NE 85th Street interchange project. Of critical importance is how people will easily and safely connect to the new transit station. While construction is not anticipated to be complete until 2024, key decisions on the design of the station and interchange are occurring now.

You are encouraged to participate in an Open House about this project on Thursday, April 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Lake Washington High School (12033 NE 80th St.). A formal presentation will begin at 6 p.m. You will have a chance to talk with engineers and planners before and after the presentation. Community input will be collected to ensure you have the opportunity to provide your thoughts on the design options. Collecting your input now will allow the design team to incorporate necessary changes in order to confirm a design that works best for Kirkland.

The second major project is Washington State Department of Transportation’s construction of freeway ramps to and from the north at NE 132nd Street that will serve southbound exiting traffic and northbound entering traffic on I-405. This project is designed to improve access to the Totem Lake area and reduce reliance on heavily congested NE 124th Street and NE 160th Street interchanges.

The NE 132nd Street interchange is in the preliminary engineering and environmental review period. WSDOT will hold an Open House on this project, with the date soon to be released. Construction is planned to begin in 2021 and the project is expected to be complete by 2023.

The new interchange will provide local street improvements, including bicycle and pedestrian facilities and install environmental enhancements, including stormwater improvements.

Community involvement in major projects like these will make a difference. Both Kirkland projects are vital parts of a massive, region-wide effort to improve mobility. Engineers and planners from state and regional agencies are well-intentioned and have significant expertise, but it is the local involvement from people like you who use the transportation system on a daily basis, and will call attention to small details, that will determine each project’s success. When those details are taken into consideration, the projects will work better for our entire community and region.

There are other ways to stay involved and submit your comments for consideration, if you are unable to attend the open house. Here are some useful links and more information on both projects:

I-405 NE 132nd Street Interchange: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I405/NE132ndStInterchange/Default.htm

I-405 Bus Rapid Transit: www.soundtransit.org/projects-and-plans/bus-rapid-transit-i-405

This column was submitted by Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen, Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold and Councilmembers Dave Asher, Tom Neir, Toby Nixon, Jon Pascal and Penny Sweet.

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