Drivers will start seeing improvements being made to state Route 169 by next spring.
According to a city of Maple Valley press release, the city was awarded a $4 million from the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board Grant to make improvements to the highway.
This project has been in the works since July, when the council adopted the city’s 2019 – 2024 Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan.
The improvements on SR 169 will stretch from Witte Road Southeast to Southeast 240th Street and includes intersection improvements, a second northbound travel lane, a new bike lane and a new sidewalk as well as retaining walls and drainage improvements, the release stated.
The hope is that once completed, the additional traffic capacity added to the highway will provide multi-modal enhancements — i.e. other ways of traveling, like biking and walking, in a safer manner.
The full cost of the project is estimated to be about $7.2 million. What costs the grant does not cover will be funded from a variety of city revenues that include traffic impact fees, transportation benefit district funds, storm water funds and real estate excise taxes.
According to Scott Tkach, public works/community development director for Maple Valley, the biggest improvement is going to be adding another northbound travel lane, which in theory will help with the city’s traffic capacity issues.
“It would be two lanes in each direction then a center turn lane. And that’s important because we’ve got serious capacity issues on 169 through our city. So that would just add more capacity to that transportation corridor and then, obviously, it also improves safety,” Tkach said.
While the amount of traffic will stay the same, Tkach explained the lanes like a clogged pipe.
“It’s like you have a pipe that’s a certain diameter and you’re pushing a certain amount of water through it. What we’re doing is we’re adding bigger pipe so it adds the ability to move more water through it,” he said. “But the current water or traffic that we’re experiencing today, I don’t expect that’s going to decline, I expect it’s going to increase.”
Another big aspect of the project are the improvements that are going to be made to two intersections — the Southeast 240th Street and SR 169 intersection, and the Witte Road Southeast and SR 169 intersection.
At the Southeast 240th intersection, Tkach said the northbound right-turn-only lane will be converted to a second right/through lane and continue to Witte Road Southeast as a second through lane.
He said there will also be a separated bus pickup/drop off area that will be added on the northeast side of the intersection, as well as ADA ramp improvements; sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping, pedestrian/vehicle lighting and signal enhancement.
Tkach said at the Witte Road Southeast intersection, there will be no changes made to the signal itself but there will be improvements to the south leg of the intersection including widening the road on the east side of SR 169 for a new northbound bike lane.
While this project will improve the road in the long run, Tkach said there will be some short term pain.
“In some cases we’re going to have to reduce the corridor, which is currently two lanes going southbound and one lane going northbound. At some point in the construction activity, we’re going to need to narrow that down to just one lane in each direction,” he explained. “So in the short term while the project is going, there’s going to be a little bit of pain because we have to do that to have a safe working site and to allow our contractor to do their job.”
Looking to the future completion of the project, Tkach said he thinks the final product will be very well received by the community because it will help add some capacity and improve safety in the area.
According to the press release, project construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2019, and is anticipated to be completed in October 2019.
Tkach said to expect traffic delays during construction and to check the city’s website and Facebook for updates and alerts.
Go to the public works section of the city’s website at www.maplevalleywa.gov for project information and updates.