New schedule eases congestion; saves money, time
The City Council voted unanimously on June 16 to repave, over a span of 30 nights, Kirkland’s busiest arterial and one of its most important economic corridors; NE 85th Street. The decision will cut the length of time Kirkland’s civil engineers had expected day-time paving to require by 20 days. It also improves customer access to scores of the corridor’s businesses.
“Businesses really encouraged us to do the night-paving,” Public Works Director Kathy Brown said at the June 16 City Council meeting. “It would help us wrap up the project sooner.”
Commuters benefit too. The night schedule shifts most of the repaving work to a time when most of the 44,000 automobiles that travel daily along Northeast 85th Street are not on the road.
To protect area residents, who live east of 126th Avenue Northeast, Kirkland’s paving contractor will perform the loudest parts of the job during the day. That entails a process known as ‘lowering iron’ — removing the lids to manhole covers and storm drains.
“Paving is a much quieter operation,” Brown said. “The contractor would need a noise variance. But for businesses and residents along [85th], getting the job done more quickly is a benefit to everybody.”
Paving is expected to begin in September, but it could commence earlier.
Currently, the general contractor is rebuilding the south side’s new curb, gutters and sidewalk. Johansen Excavating is installing street lights and preparing the intersections of 132nd and 124th for the new traffic signals. They are also putting in the last pieces of a new stormwater system.
In another few weeks, Johansen expects to complete one of the project’s most challenging components: installation of a 24-inch water main, from Interstate 405 to 132nd Avenue Northeast.
By July 10, Johansen’s crews will have installed the last fire hydrant along 85th’s north side and they will have connected the last of 14 lateral water lines to the new water main.
These are the most current of tasks in a long, ambitious list that includes burying overhead utility wires and conduit beneath the surface, building a mile of sidewalk along 124th Avenue Northeast, adding turn lanes to three intersections and connecting all of the corridor’s intersections to each other and to the city hall-based Transportation Management Center.
These achievements lay the groundwork for a vision of State Route 908 that emerged more than a decade ago. Back then, leaders from City Hall worked with residents and businesses from North and South Rose Hill to articulate the plan for the Rose Hill Gateway — a corridor where mixed-use buildings front on wide sidewalks, and the commercial density diminishes as it moves east into the residential area.
“These standards … encourage the aggregation of smaller properties into larger, more coordinated developments with coordinated signage and less of a ‘strip mall’ feel,” the community wrote in the 2007 Northeast 85th Street Subarea Plan.