Culvert project will cause lane reductions on parkway

January 31, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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A city of Bellevue project to replace an aging culvert underneath Coal Creek Parkway will reduce a portion of the busy arterial to one lane in each direction, beginning at the end of April.

The culvert will be replaced with a 39-foot-wide bridge that is expected to protect the roadway, improve public safety, provide a new pedestrian walkway and improve fish passage, project engineer Bruce Jensen said in a Jan. 15 presentation to the Newcastle City Council.

The project requires two phases of construction during which Coal Creek Parkway will be reduced to one lane in each direction between just south of Forest Drive and just north of Southeast 60th Street.

During the first phase, April to November 2013, crews will build the west half of the bridge and relocate underground utilities.

Then, from December 2013 to March 2014, crews will reopen the road to its customary four lanes of traffic.

During phase two, April to November 2014, the roadway will again be reduced so that crews can build the east half of the bridge and complete the project by the end of November.

The culvert is about 45 years old and has seen better days, Jensen said. He added that it was damaged in a December 2007 storm and the bottom of the culvert is corroded.

“It’s really on its last legs and needs to be replaced,” he said at the council meeting.

The city of Bellevue is aware of the traffic concerns that may come with the Coal Creek Parkway reduction, which is why Jensen is working to spread the word and warn drivers.

“It will be a bottleneck and alternative routes would be advised, and hopefully as we let people know about it, they’ll make plans to come early, come late, you know find another way, work from home,” he said.

The city of Bellevue also plans to encourage the contractor to complete work as soon as possible, by rewarding the firm with payment if it completes the project early, Jensen said.

“We think that that will be an effective way to make sure they’re efficient and the roadway gets back open as soon as possible,” he said.

Mayor Rich Crispo said he was concerned about the impact the closure will have, especially in the summer, when the city expects to do its own work to repair phase one of Coal Creek Parkway.

“When you’re going to take what’s a four-lane road and make it a two-lane road where they’re going to do their work, and we’re going to take the four-lane road and make it kind of a three-lane road as we’re doing the resurfacing, this road is going to be relatively unpleasant to drive on,” he said.

Jensen said he’s aware of the headaches the lane reductions may cause, but the city of Bellevue plans to keep residents informed through its website and social media platforms.

People who live in Newcastle will, for the most part, know how to get around the traffic by taking alternate routes, Crispo said, but drivers who just use Coal Creek Parkway to bypass Interstate 405 may not know where to go.

Either way, Crispo said he expects it to be an interesting summer of travel along Coal Creek Parkway.

“This may change some people’s travel habits, which may not be all that bad,” he said.

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