At the July 8th Snoqualmie City Council meeting, the council approved an agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation that officially paves the way for a temporary on-ramp to westbound I-90 from Snoqualmie Parkway.
Per the agreement, WSDOT will put the estimated $1.2 million project out for bid in early September. Work on the temporary on-ramp should begin in mid October and take approximately 45 working days to complete. The hope is the on-ramp will be ready for traffic by the end of 2019, but the project is weather dependent.
The on-ramp will used during the period prior to the start of the I-90/SR 18 Interchange Improvement Project, which WSDOT currently estimates to be sometime in 2021, although no firm start date has officially been determined.
It is estimated the on-ramp could get 2-3 years of use as it will not have to be removed immediately upon the start of interchange construction and there is also the possibility of delays with the complex interchange improvement project. BUT, as some point WSDOT will need the weigh station area for construction staging during the $150 million 90/18 interchange improvement project.
According to a city news release, WSDOT has completed preliminary design plans for the temporary I-90 Ramp Project. The existing signal-controlled right turn lane will be modified to create a free right turn protected by a traffic island and the 90/18 weigh station will be closed to serve as a continuation of the on-ramp.
The new on-ramp will be metered when completed, with the meter signal located at the point where the current westbound on-ramp lane meets the future on-ramp lane – prior to the merge onto westbound I-90.
The temporary ramp is expected to improve traffic for all drivers trying to access westbound I-90 via the SR 18 interchange during peak commute hours.
The $1.2 million project cost is being split between WSDOT and the City of Snoqualmie. The city’s portion will include contributions from the Snoqualmie Tribe ($75,000), the City of Covington ($50,000) and the City of Maple Valley ($50,000).
Snoqualmie is still determining where its estimated $425,000 project funding will come from. The mayor has suggested a temporary, two-year $20 car tab fee to match the city’s project contribution. (The fee would end when the needed funding was reached.)
Larson commented, “I believe a temporary $20 car tab fee would be palatable to the majority of those in Snoqualmie since everyone experiences the regular traffic slowdowns.”
The city council will be presented with funding options in the coming months. At the July 8th council meeting, other options like a sales tax increase or using the city’s ‘rainy day’ fund were also discussed.