Road deconstruction

All summer there’s been some construction on the roads I take to work. For the last month, it’s been in a weird interim stage whereby the semi-reconstructed areas have a lot of gravel and the vegetation is overgrown, but the felt surrounding the storm drains hasn’t been removed because some other group has to rip it all up some more. Just because.

The mess starts with decommissioned railroad tracks, grooved pavement and gravel. At point 1 the bike lane vanishes and the remaining HOV lane is shared by buses, commuters and German luxury vehicles. I think the intent of the traffic planners is the cyclist is supposed to hop up onto the sidewalk for the three blocks before I-90. The problem is at point 2, a large, orange sign “HOV lane change” blocks most of the sidewalk. The next opportunity to jump the sidewalk is kind of tricky. If I miss it, I practice my steel plate jumping skills at point 3 Traffic gets very dense thereafter as people queue up for I-90 westbound. Half of the sidewalk at point 4 is overgrown with blackberry bushes seeking out new prey. There are two trees that hang down low. At point 5, there’s a chunk of sidewalk missing, or possibly pulverized into bits of gravel strewn on the road.

Believe it or not, this is better than driving (slower, but I get to listen to NPR) or crossing I-90 at the next exit eastbound where approximately 5x the traffic flows (aka “death wish 2005”).

I got smacked in the lip pretty hard by a blackberry bush last week. I forgot about it by the time I got to work. However, before I left, I remembered and called the Issaquah Public Utility department. They’re early-risers, so I left a message asking if they could please sweep and/or pare back the vegetation. I described it as “southbound on 58th street towards the state park.”

If the map is at all readable, you’ll note that it’s actually an east-west road. And it’s not 58th, it’s 56th, except where it mysteriously turns into “NW Sammamish Rd,” roughly where the cross-street numbers get wonky. (City limits, perhaps?) I know this because “Mike” called me a few days later because he wasn’t sure what I meant. I spent five minutes attempting to provide relative geographical reference points (“Albertson’s, past the espresso stand near the animal hospital, all the way to the Arco”) to an engineer expecting hard block numbers or GPS coordinates. While he was patiently trying to explain he had looked at where he thought I meant (and, possibly, I was clueless), I summoned google maps to salvage the situation.

It’s been a few days since I spoke with him. I may try calling again to see if they’re actually going to whack the bushes down.

Over the weekend the construction has mysteriously moved southwest again, this time removing the curb and leaving a roadless gap bordered by more cones. Construction is too fomplicated. It seems like they rip it up, do a half-assed patch, then come back two months later to mess with it some more. Why can’t they
finish the stretch they’ve already ruined before destroying more road?

7 thoughts on “Road deconstruction”

  1. I’m fascinated when bike lanes suddenly appear and disappear. To me it seems that we are to suddenly levitate in order to avoid pitching off whatever precipice awaits.

    I read a story recently about how communities can get partial federal funding for road projects (most recently via The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century in 1998) if they paint a bike lane before they pull up all the cones. This would explain why there are bike lanes where it seems there is no safe way to get to them, nor any thought as to where that lane would place a cyclist relative to any destination or route. The goal is probably to provide for the municipality’s budget as much as it is for cyclists.

  2. Not to mention, on West Lake Sammamish Parkway leading up to 56th they have completely destroyed the sidewalk on the lake side. Unfortunately that was the only safe riding route so I’ve had to completely alter my route to avoid that stretch of road completely. Hopefully they’ll rebuild it someday. 🙂

  3. >Why can’t they finish the stretch they’ve already ruined
    >before destroying more road?

    The same thing happens over here. I suspect it’s because local government has come to expect that contractors do not complete things on time, so they leave a *long* gap between the time scheduled for Road-Rippers-R-Us to finish their demolition work and for Pavement City to finish the repair work.

    But given that Road-Rippers-R-Us always manage to finish in less time than scheduled, why they leave a two-month gap is beyond me… unless it has something to do with them giving Pavement City 50 repair jobs at once when they only have 5 crews, just because their quote was the lowest 🙁

  4. My theory is conservation of pavement. There is not actually enough pavement to cover all of the roads at any given time so they have to move it around. The part that was torn off Sammamish Road is now resting peacefully on Lake Washington Blvd. Your road will get fixed when some other poor sap gets grooved pavement on his road to work.

    The blackberries are a problem all over the are. You REALLY have to be careful on a tandem because ducking the branches is a Bad Idea, if you know what I mean.

  5. Argh! This week everything from points 1 through 5 westbound has been shaved off with the road groovinator. The surface is horrible, broken up by protruding manholes. I can’t hop up on the curb because it’s a 2″ jump, hard to do in moving traffic.

    The sidewalk is also full of signs and lighting machinery for nighttime operations.

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