City hopes state grant money will help pay for Island Crest Way crosswalks

Island Crest Way will remained unchanged — at least until 2011.

The city of Mercer Island will hold off on any changes to Island Crest Way pending word from the Transportation Improvement Board regarding several grant applications.

The city submitted two matching-grant requests in August for the original Island Crest Way “road diet” project as well as the two pedestrian-actuated lights approved in a June Council meeting in place of the “road diet” configuration. The move was an effort to reduce spending while still improving safety on the arterial.

A third grant request was submitted to fund the installation of traffic signals on S.E. 27th Street at the intersections with 77th Avenue S.E. and 78th Avenue S.E., said City Manager Conrad.

The Transportation Improvement Board will review the Mercer Island grant requests, along with other cities’ proposals, and make a recommendation to the Legislature.

“The legislature ultimately has to approve it,” Conrad said.

Mercer Island has garnered three grants from the Transportation Improvement Board in the past (TIB), said Greg Armstrong, a chief engineer for the Transportation Improvement Board.

In 2008 the city applied for and received two grants through the program. It again applied in 2009; however, no grants were awarded that year.

A 2006 TIB grant also funded a project to improve S.E. 40th Street from Island Crest Way to Gallagher Hill Road in 2006.

If Mercer Island again wins one or more grants, the money will be available starting Jan. 1, 2011.

“Each year, money varies depending on the amount of funding,” he said.

Under the Urban Arterial Program, TIB received 50 applications and funded only four in 2008, he said. The program generally doles out money on an annual basis; however, due to the economic downturn, it was suspended in 2009.

The program began in 1968 and the grants are funded through the state gas tax, he said.

Conrad said the city will know sometime in November if the TIB will award grant money to any of Mercer Island’s proposals. As for the Island Crest Way sidewalks, the project will move forward regardless of grant funding, he said. The only change is that the project will not start until after the new year.

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