City hires new public works director

January 2, 2015

Newcastle City Manager Rob Wyman announced that the city has hired Jeffrey Brauns as its new Public Works director.

Brauns comes to Newcastle from the city of Sammamish, where he served as city engineer and the senior transportation program manager.

Prior to that, he worked for various private-sector engineering firms as well as the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Wyman said Brauns is very plugged in with other cities and regional organizations, and currently serves as the American Public Works Association’s Transportation Committee chairman. Read more

Letters

July 2, 2014

Mark Rigos and his positive impact will truly be missed

Thanks for your first-rate coverage of the departure of Mark Rigos, Newcastle’s Public Works director. Mark is an extraordinary individual who made a huge positive impact on the city and its residents, especially in expanding and improving Newcastle’s trail system, as members of Newcastle Trails can attest.

Projects that had been deferred for years were completed during Mark’s three-year tenure, often on his initiative (without prodding from Newcastle Trails). These included easements for the Horse Trail, drainage on the Highlands Trail, and surveys that helped prevent encroachment on our parks and trails.

Read more

City Hall prepares for snow

December 19, 2013

NEW — 2:40 p.m. Dec. 19, 2013

Contributed Newcastle’s snow-and-ice priority map determines which roads get plowed first, numbered in priorities from one to four, with priority one streets representing major arterials.

Contributed
Newcastle’s snow-and-ice priority map determines which roads get plowed first, numbered in priorities from one to four, with priority one streets representing major arterials.

The snow is coming, possibly. Residents may see those soft, white flakes falling from the sky late Thursday evening into Friday morning, according to weather reports. Read more

Council approves purchase of maintenance equipment, before state grant expires

May 2, 2013

With just a few months before a state Department of Ecology grant expires, the Newcastle City Council authorized the Public Works Department to use the funds to purchase a $100,000 piece of equipment that will benefit the city’s storm water management.

The trailer-mounted hydro-excavator will be used for quick response to spills and storm pipe cleaning, though Public Works Director Mark Rigos admitted he was not sure how often the city would use it.

“Honestly, I look at this as kind of a nice-to-have, not a requirement,” he said. “I do have some concerns on how much, honestly, we’re going to use this equipment. If this was solely coming out of Newcastle coffers, I would not bring this to you.” Read more

City Council OKs traffic calming process

July 3, 2012

The Newcastle Public Works Department now has a new step-by-step process to uniformly address resident concerns when it comes to cars speeding down neighborhood streets or blowing past stop signs.

The Newcastle City Council adopted a “traffic-calming” resolution at its June 19 meeting outlining seven steps the department can take when faced with requests for improvements like speed humps, signage, sidewalks and other options.

In the resolution, residents can begin the process by completing a request for action form, which will be reviewed by the department.

Public Works Director Mark Rigos said that while many residents request large-scale changes like speed humps, other traffic-calming options might be more appropriate and cost effective.

“It’s important to know that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all solution’ to address traffic calming,” Rigos said.

The City Council has been faced in the past few weeks with several residents asking for speed humps in Newcastle neighborhoods, and Rigos said it isn’t uncommon for residents to contact his department about perceived issues, either.

By having a resolution in place, residents have a specified place to start their inquiries and city staff has a designated approach to dealing with requests for action, Deputy Mayor Lisa Jensen said.

The resolution also offers some flexibility to handle unique situations and varying road and neighborhood conditions, Rigos said. Not all steps need to be taken if they’re not applicable to a neighborhood, street or situation.

After a site investigation takes place (if deemed necessary) by staff, the city’s public works director will implement a response based on one or more of nine possible solutions.

The solutions are taking no action, limb or tree removal, neighborhood education via a community meeting or letter, additional police presence, speed studies, street sign installation or revisions, painting street markings, hiring a traffic engineer specialist or constructing physical improvements.

Councilwoman Carol Simpson encouraged residents talking to fellow residents to curb traffic issues in neighborhoods.

“I especially like the idea of meeting with the neighbors and working together so we all slow down,” she said. “We’re all guilty of going too fast through the neighborhoods.”

Physical improvements could mean sidewalks, speed humps, bike lanes, ADA ramps or traffic chicanes.

The resolution states large projects more than $3,000 would be considered on a project-by-project basis, depend on budgetary factors, and require approval of the city manager.

“Cost is a big factor, especially when we’re looking at putting sidewalks in neighborhoods where the topography is steep on one side and steep on the other side,” Rigos said. “It’s going to cost a lot more to do traffic calming and sidewalks in that neighborhood … so that’s something we have to consider at the Public Works Department for each potential project.”

On the Web

A request for action form is available online at the city’s website at www.ci.newcastle.wa.us/rfa_form.htm.

 

City takes on water issues with action plan

May 31, 2012

Maintenance of stormwater facilities desperately lacking, report finds

After the Newcastle City Council charged Public Works Director Mark Rigos with the task of creating a comprehensive action plan for the city’s stormwater facilities and maintenance last fall, he discovered three things to report this spring — the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

The city has fallen behind on myriad aspects of stormwater-related facilities and upkeep, and an aggressive, but adequate, action plan must be put into place to increase maintenance and coordinate inspection records, Rigos told the council at a May 1 study session.

The proposed surface water action plan was based on five studies financed by the city in 2001, 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

“There’s quite a bit of information there, but not all if it is getting done in the field,” Rigos said.

Before the work, the city was unsure of who owned which facilities, including storm drainage detention ponds, and as of this year, there are now four to five times more flow control and water treatment systems to maintain than when Newcastle became incorporated in 1994.

Read more

Newcastle crews kept busy during storm

January 26, 2012

Coal Creek Utility District, Newcastle Public Works Department worked to maintain vital services despite snow, ice and power outages

NEW — 3:10 p.m., Jan. 26, 2012

While most Newcastle residents endured the brunt of January’s snow, wind, ice and consequential debris from the comfort of their own homes, five members of the Newcastle Public Works maintenance crew weren’t so lucky.

Despite 16-hour shifts, equipment malfunctions and no covered space to put chains on vehicles, Public Works Director Mark Rigos said the city staff “did an exceptional job under the circumstances.”

“We have a very small staff here,” he said. “They put in so many hours during this storm. Some had to sleep in City Hall … one of our guys didn’t go home for five or six days.”

Read more

Traffic signal now on at Newcastle Library intersection

December 22, 2011

NEW — 10:45 a.m. Dec. 22, 2011

After several months of work, the traffic signals located at Newcastle Way and 129th Ave. S.E. are now live, said Public Works Director Mark Rigos.

The mast arms of the traffic signals, which are located near the construction site for the Newcastle Library, went in about two months ago, while other work including ADA accessible ramps, electrical wiring, testing and underground construction began early this summer, Rigos said.

A police officer was stationed at the new signal Dec. 21 to  ensure a smooth transition for motorists and pedestrians, he said.

Large orange construction signs indicating the new change are posted at all four approaches to the device.