Instead of replacing these culverts that run water under 224th Avenue Southeast, the city expects to build a bridge so water from Lake Sawyer can pass unimpeded. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Instead of replacing these culverts that run water under 224th Avenue Southeast, the city expects to build a bridge so water from Lake Sawyer can pass unimpeded. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Black Diamond inches closer to 169/Roberts Drive roundabout project

The City Council recently passed its 2021-2026 Transportation Improvement Program plan.

June is the wonderful time of the year when local cities take a look six years down the line and start planning for transportation improvement projects.

Black Diamond approved their Transportation Improvement Program for 2021-2026 during their June 18 meeting in time to meet the state’s July 1 deadline.

The city’s 31 proposed projects range from general street repair to major construction and improvements, with prices varying from $100,000 to hitting eight-digits. However, the TIP isn’t a binding document — more of a wish list — so price estimates and construction dates can and will change as projects come together.

“We know we’re probably not going to get all these things completed in this timeframe, but we’re going to do out best to get as many as we can done,” said Public Works Director Seth Boettcher.

Although the TIP isn’t set in stone, it helps the city be eligible for transportation improvement grants from the state and other funding organizations.

The largest and most expensive project on this year’s list is the tearing up of the Roberts Drive/state Route 169/Black Diamond-Ravensdale Road intersection and installation of two one-lane roundabouts.

The plan presented to the council during the meeting incorrectly described the roundabout as having two lanes. Boettcher recommended the council fix this mistake when they adopted the TIP.

The city had included this project in last year’s TIP with a price tag of $12 million, although the vast majority of money needed is coming from Oakpointe, the developer in charge of the massive Ten Trails housing project. It was hoped the project would officially begin this year.

This year’s TIP has some good news, and some bad: the estimated price of the project has fallen to $10 million, but it now appears the city is pushing the project back to 2022, with a hopeful completion date of 2025.

Boettcher said the city isn’t delaying this project, but just anticipating the time the state Department of Transportation will need to dot some “i”s and cross some “t”s.

Another roundabout, this time planned for the 216th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 288th Street intersection just northwest of Lake Sayer, is expected to cost around $1.4 million, with Oakpointe again footing the bill. This project isn’t expected to begin until 2025.

A project residents can likely look forward to in the nearer future includes a bridge bring built over Covington Creek. The city was originally going to replace the culverts that the creek currently runs through to bypass 224th Avenue Southeast, but officials said the culverts are nearing the end of their usefulness, and opted to instead build a bridge.

This brought the price tag of the project up from an estimated $525,000 to around $2 million, though it should be noted that the bridge will allow water — and in turn, fish going to and from Lake Sawyer — to pass under 224th unimpeded.

Construction is estimated to begin in 2021.

Another project that is likely highly anticipated is the building of a new parking lot between Baker Street and Railroad Avenue.

The Courier-Herald reported earlier this year that construction was likely to begin in 2021, but it appears the $145,000 project has been moved to 2022. Part of the project’s cost includes performing a downtown study to find the best place to put this lot, Boettcher said.

Additional projects include:

• Perform a $30,000 study to identify the best routes for pedestrians to bypass the highway to reach the downtown area. The city would like to complete this by 2022.

• Reconstructing Roberts Drive from the Black Diamond library to SR 169. The project, which includes widening the road, adding a sidewalk, street lighting, and stormwater improvements, is estimated to cost around $1.75 million. The city plans to tackle this project in 2023. Boettcher said the city hopes that by this point, its population will have exceeded 5,000, giving it the opportunity to apply for larger grants from the state Transportation Improvement Board.

• Add a sidewalk to south side of Baker Street between Railroad Avenue and SR 169, as well as a sidewalk on the west side of the highway between Baker and Lawson Street. Aimed to begin in 2023, the project is expected to cost around $700,000.

• Adding a sidewalk to the west side of SR 169 from Roberts Drive to James Street. The city would like to tackle this $550,000 project in 2024.

• Add a 6-foot wide sidewalk to Lawson Street. The project, expected to cost around $400,000, aims to begin in 2025.

• Extend the sidewalks and add bike lanes from James Street to Jones Lake Road. This project, estimated to cost $440,000, is hoped to begin in 2025.

• Construct a new arterial from SR 169 to Lawson Street. This $3.2 million project includes pedestrian facilities, bike lanes, and street lights. Construction is hoped to begin in 2026.

• New signals at both the Morgan Street and Roberts Drive and Baker Street and SR 169 intersections, estimated to cost $350,000 and $650,000 respectively, and are to start in 2026.

• Finally, the city would like to install a sidewalk on 288th Street to link to future trails and other sidewalks. While expected to cost around $550,000, the city hasn’t announced when it hopes this project would begin.

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