Local teen tackles tough issues in ‘RENT: School Edition’ starting Friday

July 30, 2009

NEW — Noon, July 29, 2009

Local teen Andrew Lee, 15, of Newcastle, is stepping out and tackling tough issues in Seattle Children’s Theatre’s “RENT: School Edition.”

Every summer, the theater’s professionals step aside to make room for aspiring young actors, directors and musicians on the stage.

Andrew has been acting for some time, but it is the first time he has performed with SCT.

“I love to sing and I’ve been doing it since choir in fifth grade, but I guess it just transformed into theater,” he said.

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

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Issaquah School District parents should take elementary school survey before Aug. 8

July 27, 2009

NEW — 6 a.m. July 27, 2009

Issaquah School District officials are asking parents of elementary school students to take a survey about their child’s school experiences before Aug. 8.

The annual elementary school parent survey is online and asks parents to evaluate their oldest child’s experiences, including how information is related about the school to parents and students, grading their school and the district and giving suggestions for improvement.

District officials will use the comments parents provide to provide things that continue to support student learning and work to improve in areas where parents have concerns.

The survey is confidential and is open until 4 p.m. Aug. 7.

Take the survey here.

People, pets should take steps to keep cool during heat wave

July 25, 2009

NEW — 6 a.m. July 25, 2009

As the mercury pushes past 90 during the next few days, health and safety officials urged residents to keep cool. Heat can be especially tough on children, senior citizens and people with chronic illnesses.

“The danger for heat-related illnesses rises when outside temperatures are very high,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a news release. “Fortunately, all of us can prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke with some simple steps.”

Health officials offered recommendations to stay cool:

  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • Spend time in air-conditioned buildings. If your home lacks air conditioning, beat the heat at a mall or movie theater.
  • Drink plenty of water or nonalcoholic beverages, and avoid waiting until you feel thirsty to drink.
  • Limit your direct exposure to sunlight if you go outside.
  • Never leave infants or children in a parked car, even if the windows are open.
  • Limit outdoor activities to mornings and evenings, when temperatures are less brutal.
  • Avoid strenuous activities.
  • Check on elderly neighbors and relatives.

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May Creek Bridge Ribbon Cutting / July 16, 2009

July 17, 2009

May Creek Bridge Ribbon Cutting / July 16, 2009

July 17, 2009

Coal Creek Parkway to close for one week starting Monday

July 17, 2009

NEW — Noon, July 17, 2009

The contractor on the Newcastle Transit Center project will begin a major closure of Coal Creek Parkway on Monday to complete a section of work at the intersection of Newcastle Way.

Although this work will help shave a full month from the total project’s timeline, it will close Coal Creek Parkway for seven days from Newcastle Way to Golf Club Road.

Work begins at 6 a.m. Monday, July 20, and will be finished in time for the morning commute Monday, July 27.

Northbound and southbound traffic on Coal Creek Parkway will be detoured onto Newcastle Way and Golf Club Road to reconnect with the parkway. Expect major delays through downtown Newcastle during the week.

Newcastle is nation’s 17th-best place to live, CNN and Money Magazine say

July 14, 2009

NEW — 10 a.m. July 14, 2009

CNN and Money Magazine released their 2009 list of the top-100 small towns in which to live in the nation, and Newcastle came in at number 17.

The annual list takes school quality, home price, number of job opportunities, crime rate and other factors into consideration to determine what cities make the cut.

Newcastle’s description on the list recognizes the Newcastle Golf Club, as well as the city’s proximity to the facilities of Boeing and Microsoft as positive aspects of the town.

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Expect delays on Coal Creek Parkway through July 9

July 8, 2009

NEW — 11: 45 a.m. July 8, 2009

Due to paving on Coal Creek Parkway between 91st and 84th streets, expect traffic delays (up to 30 minutes) through Thursday, July 9.

There are no expected delays during the evening commute.

Learn more about the project here.

City celebrates completion of parkway expansion project

July 3, 2009

By Jim Feehan and David Hayes
The completion of Coal Creek Parkway this month marks a three-phase, eight-year journey. The city’s largest Public Works project relieves the bottleneck through Newcastle along the regional thoroughfare that connects Renton and Bellevue by widening Coal Creek Parkway from two lanes to four lanes from Newcastle Way to the Southeast 95th Way.
Later this month, various local, state and federal officials will return to Coal Creek Parkway to commemorate the completion of the project. The ceremony is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 16.
“I feel great pride in the completion of Coal Creek Parkway improvements,” said City Councilwoman Jean Garber, who was at the initial ribbon cutting ceremony six years ago. “It shows that with a commitment on the part of the council and staff, Newcastle’s limited resources can be leveraged to achieve a monumental outcome.
“I hope residents who walk, bike, or drive this scenic roadway share the pride I feel. To me, the red bridge is a symbol of what we can accomplish when we all work together.”
First plans face hurdles
City officials wanted to widen the parkway since Newcastle incorporated in 1994. The first step 10 years ago was approving a six-year Transportation Improvement Plan that included the following estimates:
q Phase one — $11.8 million for widening, pedestrian and bicycle accommodations, signals, lighting, median and transit facilities, from Southeast 84th Place to Southeast 72nd Place.
q Phase two — $19.4 million for similar projects from Southeast 95th Street to Southeast 84th Place.
Construction was slated to start in summer 2000, with phase one completed in 2003.
The first hurdle to the project came in 2000, when 11 homeowners refused to sell their properties along the western edge of the parkway project. They claimed the city’s representative either didn’t negotiate in good faith or underbid what their properties were actually worth. After 10 other homeowners agreed to sell, the City Council voted Feb. 15, 2000, to condemn the 11 properties of holdout homeowners.
The project hit its second hurdle when city officials decided to delay the start until spring 2001 after experiencing issues with permits, property acquisitions and funding.
City officials negotiated with the property owners, needing a court order to acquire the final property. That cleared the way for bids to go out, and city officials approved a $5.767 million contract to Marshbank Construction, of Lake Stevens. Groundbreaking was finally kicked off March 16, 2002.
The first phase of the project widened the parkway from two lanes to four between Newcastle Way to the entrance of the Olympus neighborhood and Lake Boren Park at Southeast 84th Street. Improvements included a median, left turn lanes, additional traffic signals, bicycle lanes and sidewalks.
Funding becomes an issue
As city officials searched for additional sources of funding to meet growing costs for phases two and three, the City Council considered dropping the later phases if that search was not successful. Another $1 million injection from the county transportation budget kept plans for phase two alive.
Cost overruns, including the need to blast apart a rockslide, drove the cost of phase one up to $14.4 million.
Each member of the City Council, as well as several Planning Commission members and city staff were on hand to celebrate the opening of the first phase of the project during a November 2003 ribbon cutting ceremony. Following speeches from city and county representatives, a group of council members and children paraded up Coal Creek Parkway for a few blocks in vintage cars. Phase one opened to traffic Nov. 8, 2003.
Two years later, the city received an $11.3 million grant from the state Transportation Improvement Board for the completion of phases two and three.
Transportation projects in the state move forward with the help of competitive state grants awarded by the board, which was created by the Legislature to foster state investments in local projects.
Engineering for phases two and three were about 60 percent complete when the grant was announced. Up to that point, the board had invested $25 million in five earlier stages of Coal Creek Parkway, stretching from Interstate 405 in Bellevue, through Newcastle and south to state Route 900 in the Renton Highlands.
In February 2006, design elements for the final two phases of the parkway were unanimously approved by the City Council. They included plans for sidewalks, realigning Southeast 89th Place with Coal Creek Parkway and the design for the May Creek Bridge, with sidewalks on both sides and a center meridian. The design called for the bridge to be topped with several arches reminiscent of the original May Creek Railroad trestle in contemporary form. The trusses that run the length of the bridge are painted brick red.
‘Bold action paid off’
Stevan Gorcester, the executive director of the state Transportation Improvement Board, applauded the city’s efforts to secure funding for the parkway and tackling such a large Public Works project.
“I am thrilled to see the successful completion of this project,” Gorcester said. “The city took on a big project and they assumed some risk. Sometimes, you have to take bold action and that bold action paid off.”
Coal Creek Parkway is a major arterial paralleling Interstate 405 and will grow more important in the coming months as the state undertakes a major upgrade to I-405, he said.
Construction of the final mile of the Coal Creek Parkway project began in September 2007, widening the parkway from Southeast 84th Street to Southeast 95th Way and replacing the narrow two-lane May Creek Bridge, which was built in 1951. The parkway remained open during the past 22 months as crews demolished the old bridge, widened the roadway, added bike lanes and sidewalks and built a retaining wall north of the Highlands entrance to the intersection of Southeast 89th Place.
The project came in under budget and on time. In the waning hours of this year’s session, the Legislature came through with $3 million for the project.
Maiya Andrews, the city’s Public Works director, said the city is thankful for its funding partners and the trust they placed in Newcastle spending their money wisely.
The parkway improvements will help commuters who opt to bypass I-405, but it also offers amenities to pedestrians and bicyclists, Andrews said.
“This is something we can look back at and be proud of,” she said.
The May Creek Bridge, open to traffic May 26, features wider sidewalks. By Greg Farrar

The May Creek Bridge, open to traffic May 26, features wider sidewalks. By Greg Farrar

The completion of Coal Creek Parkway this month marks a three-phase, eight-year journey. The city’s largest Public Works project relieves the bottleneck through Newcastle along the regional thoroughfare that connects Renton and Bellevue by widening Coal Creek Parkway from two lanes to four lanes from Newcastle Way to the Southeast 95th Way. Read more

Skateboard park open house meeting is July 14

July 3, 2009

The city is hosting an open house regarding the proposed temporary skate park at Renton Academy from 6-7:30 p.m. July 14 at Renton Academy, 7100 116th Way S.E.
This is an informational meeting to go over proposed equipment, layout and to talk with nearby residents and skateboard enthusiasts.
Call 649-4444, ext. 106, for more information.

The city is hosting an open house regarding the proposed temporary skate park at Renton Academy from 6-7:30 p.m. July 14 at Renton Academy, 7100 116th Way S.E. Read more

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