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Duvall's traffic forecast: Expect delays

DUVALL — In less than two months, construction on the

much-anticipated Novelty Bridge will begin, and possibly, so will traffic jams in

and around the city of Duvall.

On March 15, the King County Department of

Transportation (KCDOT) will shut down Northeast 124th Street to replace the

Novelty Bridge. The $10.8 million project will keep the road closed for about

seven months — five months shorter than originally planned.

"Under normal conditions we would approach this as a

two-season project," said Jim Markus, a KCDOT supervising engineer. "[But we

paid the] price tag to have it with a tight schedule."

Plans to remove the 80-year-old structure have been circulating for

several years because the bridge has become "functionally obsolete and

structurally deficient." Officials attempted to find a new home for the

aging bridge but Markus said there weren't any interested buyers.

"We advertised the old bridge for six months and there wasn't a

single call," he said. "It's not cost

effective to move it and it has lead paint."

Instead, the structure will be melted down and recycled to

perhaps one day be reincarnated as another bridge.

Contractors will install a new green arch-style bridge with dark

blue wavy metal on the sides to symbolize the Snoqualmie River below.

The bridge will be about 600 feet long with two 12-foot wide lanes and

8-foot shoulders. Eight-foot pylons will stand on both sides of the roadway to

welcome drivers to the new bridge.

Though the finished product promises to provide motorists a

safe passage over the river, commuters will need to deal with seven months

of detours in the meantime.

According to the KCDOT, more than 7,500 cars use the 124th

Street bridge to travel to the other Eastside communities. During

construction, however, drivers are advised to use West Snoqualmie Valley Road

Northeast and Woodinville-Duvall Road — recreating the traffic nightmare

residents are familiar with when floodwaters engulf the bridge.

But Norton Posey, a KCDOT traffic systems engineer, said the

county is implementing several projects to keep traffic flowing smoothly.

The improvements include:

• Re-timing the traffic signal at Woodinville-Duvall Road and

SR-203.

• Installing a new traffic signal at Stephens Street and SR-203.

• Placing flaggers or police officers at three intersections in the area

to help ease congestion.

• Improving four intersections on Avondale Road, West

Snoqualmie Valley Road Northeast, Woodinville-Duvall Road and SR-203.

Also, Posey said, some residents will probably adjust their

commute times, which will cause traffic conditions to calm down. Additionally,

the county suggests residents carpool to work, run errands in one trip, and

most of all, exercise patience.

"In the past on Woodinville-Duvall Road and 203 people would swear

and spit at officers," Duvall Councilwoman Pat Fullmer said of the

frustrations drivers feel when there's a lot of traffic.

Duvall Police Chief Glenn Merryman said his officers will be

at the main intersection in town to help the residents get through the

gridlock as quickly as possible.

"We're gonna plan for the worst and hope for the best," he said.

For more information about the Novelty Bridge project, call

the county's community relations department at (206) 263-3792. The

county will also post updated information about the project on their Web site

at www.metrokc.gov/kcdot/alert.

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