North Bend thinks big with $7.9 million transportation plan

NORTH BEND - The city has a $7.98 million blueprint in place for how it wants to address transportation needs, from replacing aging bridges to reconstructing streets to building a roundabout.

However, the big question mark hanging over those planned improvements is whether North Bend will have enough money to actually follow the blueprint.

Public Works Director Ron Garrow outlined North Bend's 2003-2008 transportation improvement plan at the Tuesday, June 4, City Council meeting. He said the plan sought to ease congestion in the city, maintain the safety of drivers and pedestrians and extend the life of previous improvements.

"We're looking at major capital expenses to improve our system for the long haul," he said of the six-year plan.

But it carries with it a hefty price tag. The 12 projects contained in the transportation improvement plan would require matching funds from the city to the tune of $2.15 million out of the almost $8 million total cost.

Garrow admitted as it stands now, North Bend would be hard pressed to provide the matching funds for all the projects.

"We can't do it," he said.

To make the plan feasible, Garrow said one of the projects, a $1.2 million pavement overlay program for which no grants have been identified, could be left out of the transportation improvement plan. Tying the reconstruction of Ballarat Avenue to a culvert replacement project would save another $189,500 (that money would instead come out of North Bend's stormwater utility fund).

Assuming developers would contribute more than $220,000 to transportation upgrades over the next six years, that brings the city's match down to $535,505 - or $89,251 a year.

"This is the most well thought-out transportation plan ... that I have seen," said Councilman Mark Sollitto, adding that previous plans were sometimes less grounded to what North Bend could truly afford.

"This is aggressive, but much more reasonable by comparison," he said.

The six-year transportation improvement plan will likely have to compete with other forward-thinking directives, such as the six-year capital improvement plan for the city's parks, for funding, but council members said they liked what they saw in Garrow's work.

"I think $89,000, $90,000 to keep you happy is certainly something the council will consider," Councilwoman Elaine Webber said. The City Council then unanimously approved the transportation improvement plan.

The projects in the 2003-2008 North Bend transportation improvement plan include:

* Tanner Trail construction Phase 1 from Bendigo Boulevard to Southeast Orchard. (Cost: $166,090. Year: 2002)

* Ballarat Avenue reconstruction from Northeast Sixth Street to Northeast Eighth Street. At the same time, a stormwater utility culvert would be replaced. ($689,500, 2002-2003)

* Bendigo Boulevard Heritage Corridor - which would construct a pedestrian walkway from the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River to Ribary Way. ($117,300, 2003)

* Bendigo Boulevard-Park Street traffic signal. ($200,000, 2003)

* Improvements to East North Bend Way from Bendigo Boulevard to Ballarat Avenue, from revising the signal where East North Bend Way intersects with Bendigo Boulevard, to installing a new signal at the intersection of East North Bend Way and Ballarat Avenue, to reconstructing the East North Bend Way pavement. ($599,100, 2004-2005)

* Replacing the Northeast Eighth Street bridge. ($457,450, 2004)

* Building a roundabout at the intersection of East North Bend Way and Southeast Cedar Falls Way. It would require the purchase of right of way from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. ($971,100, 2005-2006)

* Building a park-and-ride lot. No site has been selected yet. ($300,000, 2006)

* Improvements to East North Bend Way from Ballarat Avenue to Southeast Cedar Falls Way, including the installation of curbs, gutters, sidewalks, medians and some pavement reconstruction. ($2.25 million, 2007-2008)

* Tanner Trail Phase 2 construction from Southeast Cedar Falls Way to the eastern city limit at Southeast North Bend Way. ($704,800, 2007)

* Replacing the Alm Way bridge. ($127,520, 2008)

* Pavement overlay program. ($1.2 million, 2003-2008)

At the June 4 meeting, the City Council also passed the first reading of the North Bend comprehensive plan amendments and the 2002 Parks, Recreation, Wildlife Habitat and Open Space Plan.

The council will have the final vote on the comprehensive plan amendments at its Monday, June 17, meeting.

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