172nd Ave NE Gate Opening
Public Meeting on Nov. 8
The City of Redmond hosted an online public meeting regarding updates to the corridor plan for the 172nd Ave. NE gate project.
Public Meeting on July 19
The City of Redmond hosted a meeting to listen to concerns and answer questions on July 19 at Redmond City Hall and online via Microsoft Teams. John Taylor, King County Director of Local Services, Tricia Davis, King County Road Services Director, and Aaron Bert, Redmond Public Works Director, attended to answer questions at the meeting.
Council Study Session
Redmond City Council considered this topic at its regularly scheduled study session, 7 p.m., June 27, in Redmond City Hall Council Chambers. There is no public comment at study sessions.
The City of Redmond works to improve connectivity and mobility of people throughout the City and provide safe, reliable infrastructure. The project to remove the gate from 172nd Avenue NE and install traffic calming features will allow faster access for emergency services, improve traffic circulation overall, and increase connectivity for residents while discouraging cut-through traffic, reducing traffic speeds, and improving the safety of all.
Removing the gate will allow increased connectivity for residents on both sides of the gate, and traffic calming measures will limit the amount of cut-through traffic and its speed. Based on data from a currently in-process traffic study, daily projected traffic volumes after the gate is opened are expected to be less than 3,800 vehicles per day in total for both directions combined by 2030. This volume aligns with other similarly sized connector streets in Redmond.
It’s a valuable connection for Redmond and King County alike and is a public roadway intended to be used by all. Opening this connection provides travel options and improves overall system circulation.
Reduce response times for emergency services
- Reduce traffic speeds
- Discourage cut-through traffic
- Increase connectivity for residents
- Improve traffic circulation
Construction of this project will take place in two parts. The first part will install several traffic calming measures along the 172nd Avenue NE corridor from the location of the gate, north. Part one will be completed before the road is opened to traffic. The second part will add a traffic signal at the intersection of 162nd Place NE and NE 124th Street. Pat two will be constructed when funding and permits are secured.
Part one of construction will begin in 2023. All construction will be coordinated with King County.
Removing the gate
In order to install a traffic circle at the intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 124th Street, the gate across 172nd Avenue NE will need to be removed to make space for construction. Barriers will be in place during construction to prevent through traffic. The road will remain closed to traffic until the construction of traffic calming measures is complete.
Construction – Part 1:
Intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 124th Street
New features will include:
- A traffic circle.
- A streetlight.
- Intersection narrowing with traffic delineators.
Intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 126th Place
New features will include:
- A traffic circle.
- 2 streetlights.
- Intersection narrowing with traffic delineators.
New features will include:
- Lane lines to separate vehicles and pedestrians.
- Two speed cushions.
Construction – Part 2:
- 162nd Place NE and NE 124th St intersection traffic control measures to be determined.
The City first examined this extension as part of the 1995 Comprehensive Plan and then proposed it as part of the 2004 Transportation Master Plan as an improvement to circulation, mobility, and access in the city street network. Following lobbying from residents in unincorporated King County, the city installed the gate. A new corridor study was completed, which recommended additional traffic calming measures and a signal at 162nd Place NE and NE 124th Street. The gate has remained in place for over ten years. As the City built out the 172nd corridor, traffic calming features were installed, including curb bulb-outs, speed cushions, a roundabout, a traffic circle, an all-way stop, and a raised crosswalk. This project will implement additional traffic calming measures, including traffic circles and speed cushions, and remove the gate.
- 172nd Avenue NE connection has been on the Comprehensive Plan since 1995.
- In the 2004 draft Transportation Master Plan, the extension of 172nd Avenue NE between NE 122nd Street and NE 124th Street was proposed as the North Redmond area continued to expand.
- King County residents filed an appeal of the City’s Determination of Non-Significance for the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) in April 2005, which was found not to have merit.
- In 2006, the city held several open houses to look at the 172nd Avenue Corridor from NE 111th Street to NE 128th Street – with the focus being actions and improvements the city would take up to the NE 124th Street northern boundary. Potential improvements to 172nd Avenue beyond NE 124th Street would be addressed with King County through a future project.
- The city identified the need to provide traffic calming measures throughout the corridor and built out the area from NE 111th Street to 122nd Street with multiple speed cushions, a traffic circle, curb bulb-outs, a raised crosswalk, and a roundabout.
- Once the City proceeded to build out the corridor, residents in unincorporated King County lobbied the City Council to place a barrier at NE 124th Street and 172nd Avenue until a corridor study was completed.
- A barrier was put in and has remained for over ten years.
- The 2007 Corridor study recommended installing a signal at the intersection of 162nd Place NE and NE 124th Street, and traffic calming from NE 124th Street to NE 128th Street.
Previously Installed Traffic Calming Measures
The City of Redmond began installing traffic calming measures after previous rounds of feedback regarding the 172nd Ave. NE corridor. Traffic calming features already installed along 172nd Ave. NE include:
- narrowing the road south of the gate to 20 feet wide.
- Raised crosswalk, two speed cushions, and several curb extensions along 172nd Ave. NE between NE 116th St. and NE 122nd St., in the vicinity of Clara Barton Elementary.
- A roundabout at the intersection of 172nd Ave. NE and NE 116th St.
- A traffic circle, raised crosswalk, and two speed cushions on 172nd Ave. NE between NE 116th St. and NE 111th St.
- Four split speed humps and one speed cushion on NE 111th St. between 166th Ave. NE and 172nd Ave. NE.
- Four speed cushions and several curb extensions along NE 122nd St. between 172nd Ave. NE and NE 124th St.
Recent work in the area
City crews recently began stormwater infrastructure improvements at the intersection of 172nd Ave. NE and NE 124th St. to install a new catch basin to keep water off the roadway and prevent icing in the winter.
Notes from Public Meetings
Two public meetings were held regarding this project. A hybrid in-person and virtual meeting was held on July 19 at City Hall, and an online meeting was held on Nov. 8 via Microsoft Teams. At each meeting, staff took notes of all questions asked, and feedback provided, and drafted the Q&A below to respond to every question asked.
- Why is the gate being opened?
It’s a valuable connection for Redmond and King County alike and is a public roadway intended to be used by all.
- If the gate only costs a few minutes of travel time per driver, why is it important for it to be opened?
Opening this connection provides travel options and improves overall system circulation.
- What is the plan for the 172nd Avenue NE Gate?
Traffic calming features will be installed before opening the road. These include:
- A traffic circle at the intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 124th Street
- A streetlight at the intersection of 172nd Ave NE & NE 124th St
- Intersection narrowing with traffic delineators at the intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 124th Street
- Corridor lane lines to separate vehicles and pedestrians
- A traffic circle at the intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 126th Place
- Two speed cushions between NE 125th Street and NE 126th Place
- Intersection narrowing with traffic delineators at the intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 126th Place
The original three-phase plan to install traffic calming features and open the gate has been condensed. All traffic calming features of phases one and two will be installed prior to opening the road. The gate will be removed to make space for the construction of traffic calming features, but temporary barriers will block the road until construction is complete.
- Why aren’t all the traffic calming measures being built before opening the road?
King County and Redmond have agreed to install all the traffic-calming features before opening the gate. The timing for installing the traffic signal at the intersection of 162nd Place NE and NE 124th Street is still being determined. Funding for the traffic signal is not yet available.
- Why is there a focus on traffic calming on this road?
The City of Redmond is continually working to implement traffic calming across the City. This project is a priority because it will be a new connection, and the City wants to minimize cut-through traffic and reduce speeding.
- How can increased volumes of traffic use such a narrow road, and how can large trucks navigate the narrow roads? Isn’t the road too narrow to open the gate?
No, the roadway is designed to be narrow. The narrow roadway is a traffic-calming feature designed to keep speeds down, and it is wide enough to accommodate all types of vehicles.
- How will this project affect traffic volumes on other routes?
It is expected to reduce volumes on NE 116th Street and 162nd Place NE through volume redistribution.
- How will King County be involved in completing the plan?
King County will coordinate with Redmond on design and installation throughout the project.
- How will pedestrians and bikers be kept safe both north and south of the gate?
Lane lines and traffic delineators will be installed to help separate vehicles from pedestrians and cyclists north of the gate. Traffic calming features along the corridor are designed to reduce speeds for motor vehicles. South of the gate, sidewalks will help separate pedestrians from vehicles, and north of the gate, the roadway is wide and has ample room for cyclists and pedestrians to use the shoulder outside the driving lanes.
- How will traffic laws be enforced in this area?
Once the roadway is opened, the City will request that Redmond Police and the King County Sheriff’s Office frequent the area. City staff will also observe the driving behaviors and conduct several traffic speed and volume studies over the next few years. If you witness dangerous or illegal behavior, please report it to law enforcement. Call 425-556-2500 to report non-emergencies to Redmond Police. During an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Will more streetlights be added?
Lighting will be added at the intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 124th Street, at the speed cushions and at the intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 126th Place.
- Why aren’t pedestrian and bicycle safety being addressed before opening the gate?
Traffic calming features, including roadway channelization to separate bikes and pedestrians from vehicles, will be installed prior to opening the road.
- What are the roles and responsibilities of Redmond and King County in this project?
Redmond and King County will be partnering together throughout this project. The specific responsibilities for construction are still being worked out.
- Have you included the pedestrian, bike, and animal traffic at the entrance to Smith Wood Park in planning for this project?
Yes, the driveway entrance to Smith Wood Park is for utility access, and a new driveway entrance will be constructed.
- What authority does the City have to make changes to these streets?
The City of Redmond has the authority to make changes on city streets and can make changes on King County roads with permission from the county.
- Why is the City using traffic data from 2019? How can years-old data be accurate?
The 2019 North South Study was used in earlier planning for this project. New traffic counts were conducted in May 2023. The more recent North South Corridor Study uses updated traffic volumes when calculating the projected volumes on the north side of the gate.
- What are you doing to fix the current traffic calming measures that are not working?
We will review the traffic circle at 172nd Avenue NE and NE 112th Way for potential improvements. Otherwise, the installations are effective at keeping speeds down for most vehicles.
- Why do we keep hearing different traffic numbers for this project?
The City of Redmond has only provided one traffic count number for 172nd Ave NE. We do not know where these other numbers have come from. Based on the recently drafted North-South Corridor Study, the projected number of trips north of the gate is projected to be 3,285 in the year 2030, with traffic measures installed.
- Why wasn’t the meeting recorded?
Normally, only City Council and Planning Commission meetings are recorded. Most boards, commissions, and other public meetings are not recorded.
- What is the difference between traffic counts, traffic models, and evaluation?
Traffic counts like the one conducted earlier this year count the number of vehicles, their speed, and direction at the point on the road where the measurements were taken. Traffic models use traffic counts as inputs and are meant to calculate predicted traffic volumes. Evaluation refers to observing and measuring volumes to determine if actual traffic volumes are less than, more than, or equal to their predicted amount.
- Are there plans to open the gate at 172nd Avenue and 145th Street NE?
This location is outside the City of Redmond limits. Please contact King County for more information.
- What feedback have the Redmond Police and Fire Departments provided regarding the gate?
They support the removal and agree that response time will be reduced with this connection.
- Why aren’t you using the funding for this project to improve roads with poor pavement first?
The Pavement Management Program prioritizes which roads receive improvements.
- What is the total cost and funding source to pay for all the traffic calming features?
The money for traffic calming features in this project comes from the City of Redmond General Fund. The Budget for all traffic calming features to be built is $880,000. With the City crews constructing the traffic circles, the installations are expected to cost $250,000. The traffic signal will require upwards of $1,000,000, which will include work on 162 Place NE. King County and the City of Redmond are discussing how to fund the traffic signal.
- Why aren’t there sidewalks on the King County side of the gate?
When the neighborhood was built, King County Road Standards did not include adding sidewalks. Given the size of the lots in the neighborhood, they would still not be included if built today.
- What is the timing for installing traffic calming features?
The City of Redmond and King County will be working together to ensure that all the traffic calming features on the 172nd Avenue NE corridor, north of the gate, are installed before opening the gate. The timing for installing the traffic signal at the intersection of 162nd Place NE and NE 124th Street is still being determined. Funding for the traffic signal is not yet available.
- Will more streetlights be added?
Lighting will be added at the intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 124th Street. King County and Redmond are in discussions about also funding lighting at the speed cushions and at the intersection of 172nd Avenue NE and NE 126th Place.
- How does this plan account for the Monticello Watershed?
The Monticello Watershed will not be affected by the addition of traffic calming on this route or the removal of the gate. https://www.letsconnectredmond.com/monticello/maps/monticello-creek-watershed-map
- Is the traffic circle planned at the intersection of 172nd Ave. NE and NE 124th St. non-compliant with applicable standards? Do WSDOT standards apply?
No, the traffic circle will comply with all applicable standards appropriate to the roadway. These circles were designed with elements of City of Redmond Standard Traffic Circle Detail, WSDOT Curb 1 Roundabout Truck Apron (F-10.18-03), and King County Sign and Post Details. These standards are used on comparable residential roads. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) standards typically apply to larger, higher-speed, higher-traffic roadways.
- Will emergency vehicles be able to navigate the traffic circle?
There will be a traffic apron to allow large vehicles to drive over when needed. The design has been discussed with the Redmond Fire Department, and they have no concerns with the design.
- Are traffic circles effective? I heard that Perteet, a consultant, said they are not effective.
We have also heard this rumor that Perteet said that traffic circles are ineffective and we have no idea where the rumor originated. Perteet is designing the current traffic circles because they are a proven traffic calming measure. All traffic circles and roundabouts are rotary-style traffic control measures. When properly implemented, they force drivers to make steering inputs, change the direction and speed of travel, and focus on the road. Traffic circles also reduce the likelihood of T-bone accidents, which have a high risk of major injury.
- I heard that the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration said traffic circles are considered inappropriate along a primary emergency vehicle route.
172nd Ave NE is not considered a primary emergency vehicle route. The design of this traffic circle is fully mountable, meaning it allows emergency vehicles to travel over the traffic circle with minimal delay, if any.
- Is the traffic circle at the intersection of 172nd Ave. NE and NE 112th St. an example of the kind of traffic circle you want to install at the intersection of 172nd Ave. NE and NE 124th St.?
No, the existing traffic circle at NE 112th St. is not a comparable example. It does not provide sufficient deflection due to the presence of a bike lane, and it is too small for the overall intersection width. The new traffic circles we are installing will have dimensions based on intersection width. We will also have posts to delineate traffic. The city is making plans to correct existing ineffective traffic circles around the city.
- Will the curbing at the intersection of 172nd Ave. NE and 124th St. NE be made of concrete or plastic?
The curbing will be made of plastic and bolted into the ground
- The plans say that speed cushions will reduce speed by 5-13 mph. Do speed cushions reduce speeds?
Speed cushions have been extensively studied and have been shown to reduce speeds. The Federal Highway Administration’s Traffic Calming e-Primer states that vehicles can traverse speed cushions at speeds of 20-25mph. Depending on the speed of the approach, this could result in speed reductions of 5-13mph. The 172nd Ave NE speed study conducted in March of 2023 showed the 85th percentile speed ranging from 29.1 to 33.1mph. Given these numbers, we can expect the speeds of vehicles on 172nd Ave NE to be reduced by 4-13mph at the speed cushions.
- Isn’t 172nd Ave. NE is too narrow between 124th and 122nd for large vehicles to travel in both directions? What are you adding south of the gate to keep people safe?
This section of the road has ten-foot lanes in each direction. West Lake Sammamish Parkway is also ten feet wide in each direction, and traffic travels in both directions without incident. Narrow roads also encourage lower speeds. Channelization and a center line will be installed on the south side of the gate as part of construction.
- Does the section of road with 10-foot lanes between NE 124th St. and NE 122nd St. include a bicycle lane?
No, there is no bike lane on this section of road.
- What is the proposed date for the gate to be open?
The plan is to begin construction in Spring of 2024, but there is no certain end date. We estimate a construction phase of three months. Due to many variables, a specific completion date cannot be provided. Construction is weather and contractor-dependent.
- Why does the gate need to open so soon? I heard it might open by March 2024.
The gate will be opened after the traffic calming measures along 172nd Ave. NE are installed. Spring 2024 is the earliest that construction could begin, but it could be later as construction is contractor and weather-dependent.
- Why is the City undertaking this project now?
This project was outlined in the Transportation Master Plan (TMP), which was adopted as part of the 2023-2024 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
- Shouldn’t the traffic signal be in place at 162nd Place NE and NE 124th St. before the gate is removed? Did the City commit to installing a traffic signal at that intersection before opening the gate?
The City did not commit to installing a traffic signal at that intersection, and it is not clear that a traffic signal is the proper mitigation strategy for that intersection. The City committed to installing the traffic calming measures along 172nd Ave. NE before opening the gate. The City has increased the number of mitigation measures included in that plan and will pay for all of them. The intersection of 162nd Place NE and NE 124th St. is still being studied to determine if a traffic signal, roundabout, or other traffic calming measure will be most effective, and funding for those improvements has yet to be budgeted.
- What measures will you take to protect the children? Removing the gate may increase the traffic in front of Clara Barton Elementary School, where there have already been speeding issues.
Staff have coordinated with the Redmond Police Department regarding safety and speeding along this route and will schedule additional patrols during school hours. Even with the gate open, traffic projections suggest that Clara Barton will continue to have significantly less traffic than other elementary schools in Redmond.
- How will you enforce the speed limits north of the gate?
The King County Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction to enforce speed limits north of the gate. We’ve discussed with them the possibility of a targeted enforcement effort when the gate is opened. The City will also conduct follow-up speed studies.
- With over 3,000 cars a day traveling on 172nd Ave. NE, how will you ensure pedestrians can cross safely to access their mailboxes, which are on the opposite side of the street?
We encourage all pedestrians to look both ways and ensure the road is clear and safe before crossing.
- Why are there no sidewalks North of 124th? How do you plan to keep pedestrians safe?
North of the intersection of 172nd Ave. NE and NE 124th St. is King County. The county considers this section of road to be a rural road, and their design standards do not include sidewalks for rural roads. Lane lines will be installed, differentiating the driving lanes from the pedestrian parts of the roadway.
- Did anyone from the county attend the public meeting on Nov. 8?
John Taylor, King County Director of Local Services, attended.
- When will notes from the meeting be provided?
This Q&A has been updated with all the questions noted at the meeting, and the meeting chat has been added to the web page.
- Was the public meeting on Nov. 8 recorded?
No, our intention was to record the meeting, which was originally planned as a Teams Live Event. To allow greater audience participation, including allowing audience members to speak instead of writing in questions, we changed the meeting format from a Teams Live Event to an enterprise Teams Meeting. At our organization, recording of Teams Meetings requires advanced coordination with our Technology and Information Services (TIS) Department, as that capability is normally disabled enterprise-wide. With the last-minute change, we did not have time to coordinate recording permissions with TIS.
- The website says the project goals include limiting cut-through traffic. How can that be true if you are removing the gate?
The project has multiple goals. The gate opening will improve the traffic system's overall access, mobility, and circulation. At the same time, the City is installing significant traffic calming measures to discourage excessive cut-through traffic once the gate is open.
- How can removing the gate expedite emergency services if they already have a way to unlock the gate?
While the Fire Department does have remote access to unlock the gate, stopping to open the gate still slows emergency vehicles. Open roads are also more reliable than a remotely accessed gate.