Kenmore moves to revamp SR 522 intersection
August 2, 2010 · 3:59 PM
After plenty of confusion over exactly what it was approving, Kenmore City Council voted to move forward with an approximately $1.2 million revamping of the intersection of Northeast 181st Street and 61st Avenue Northeast, as well as the latter street’s intersection with State Route 522.
For the most part, councilmembers seemed to want to ensure they were approving an actual earth-turning project and not just a purchase of right-of-ways needed to make the work happen.
Written into a federal appropriations bill by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, the project partly may be paid for with federal dollars.
Murray is hoping to secure funding for a number of King County transportation and infrastructure projects ranging from $1.2 million for a South Sound Regional Business Incubator to $21.7 million to support RapidRide bus service between West Seattle and downtown Seattle.
Murray earmarked $600,000 for improvements to Kenmore’s SR 522 corridor, which includes the intersections currently targeted by local legislators.
According to Murray’s office, the project is designed to help move traffic along 522 by improving traffic flow on the north and south approaches to the roadway at 61st Avenue.
“Traffic safety will be improved through the realignment of the northbound intersection approach and improving the traffic signal,” Murray’s office said in a press release.
Both the release and local officials further talked about placing a traffic signal at 61st and 181st, also with the aim of improving safety.
At their July 26 meeting, Kenmore councilmembers seemed to go back and forth on whether or not to act on the project. In keeping with what he saw as the spirit of Murray’s appropriation, Mayor David Baker in particular wanted to see actual construction work get under way at some point.
“I think it’s important we complete something,” Baker said.
Deputy Mayor Milton Curtis agreed, saying the point of Murray’s actions was to create construction jobs, something that wouldn’t happen if the city just purchased property.
Council first voted down what seemed to be a motion to forward the project, a motion made by Councilwoman Laurie Sperry.
“I think it makes a lot of sense to do something we can reasonably complete,” she said. At the same time, the city presumably will continue working to find the money to finish its far more ambitious, overall plans for 522.
After some further discussion, council voted 6-1 on a seemingly reworded motion to launch the work, though when shovels might hit the ground is debatable.
According to Murray’s office, the federal portion of the funding has moved to the full senate appropriations committee. Local officials seemed to feel final approval won’t arrive until after the fall elections. City Engineer Ron Loewen said the city probably won’t even make offers on needed right-of-ways until early next year, by which time the status of the federal funding should be clear.
Councilman Allan Van Ness said the federal money is about 90 percent certain and Loewen said the city should be able to pull out if the federal money doesn’t appear. In any case, for now, judging from comments made at the council meeting, the city has committed about $200,000 of its own money toward the project.
Kenmore already has overseen major improvements to large stretches of SR 522, with more work to come on the so-called western section. Far more funding will be needed to make that overall project happen. Loewen tried to assuage concerns any improvements done now to the 61st Avenue intersection would need to be torn up if and when the larger construction takes place. He said there would be some minor additional right-of-ways needed, but no major reworking of any intersection repairs would take place.