Traffic drives me nuts, too

David Burg - Courtesy photo, city of Bellevue
David Burg
— image credit: Courtesy photo, city of Bellevue

As a civil engineer who leads the city’s Transportation Department, my primary concern is in fulfilling our mission of providing a safe and efficient transportation system that supports livable neighborhoods and a vital economy.

We plan our projects carefully, take a long-term approach to investing public resources and make every effort to minimize construction impacts.

As a Bellevue resident, I’m also a regular user of our transportation system. On my commute, I carpool or bike daily from my home in the Spiritridge neighborhood to my job in downtown at City Hall.

So it’s been doubly exasperating for me that congestion, particularly at the 148th/156th Avenue Southeast interchange with Interstate 90, has been such a bear lately. As a transportation professional, I’m trained to solve problems methodically and make improvements. But as a commuter, when I’m waiting in traffic on my way home, those traffic snarls are personal: they drive me nuts.

And I know I’m not alone. We’re hearing regularly from others concerned about increased congestion. The main cause of the recent slowdowns in the Eastgate area near I-90 is related to the start of work on long-awaited improvements to nearby West Lake Sammamish Parkway.

In response, we’ve made changes to signal timing, adjusted construction hours, and worked with the state Department of Transportation to fine-tune ramp metering on I-90.

We hear you, we understand your frustration and we’re working hard to minimize congestion. We are now projecting the Parkway will be fully open in September, a full month ahead of the previously scheduled completion date. However, in the meantime we do expect delays at the Eastgate interchange to persist.

And, with a busy road construction season kicking into high gear this month– including the city’s annual overlay program and major projects on Coal Creek Parkway and 120th Avenue Northeast – additional travel challenges are going to be with us for several more months.

During this time we ask for your continued patience, and for your help. Take alternate routes and modify commute times if possible, and be extra careful when traveling through construction zones.

I know that explanations and suggestions are no substitute for solutions when you’re stuck in traffic, but rest assured, there is a silver lining. The end result of all this work will be a better, safer transportation system for all of us.

David Berg is Transportation Department Director for the City of Bellevue. He can be reached at 425-452-6468 or dberg@bellevuewa.gov

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