King County construction project to relieve congestion on east side of Redmond

In a few years, traffic on the east side of Redmond will flow much better — thanks to a county-city revision project, featuring two new roundabouts.

In a few years, traffic on the east side of Redmond will flow much better — thanks to a county-city revision project, featuring two new roundabouts.

Since the late 1990s, King County and the City of Redmond have been planning together to extend 196th Avenue Northeast north to intersect with Northeast Novelty Hill Road. This spring, construction on the project, which will include the installation of two new roundabouts where 196th Avenue Northeast intersects with Northeast Novelty Hill Road and Northeast Union Hill Road, will begin.

Don Cairns, a transportation services manager with Redmond’s public works department, said the majority of the work will be done in unincorporated King County. He estimates only about five percent of the work will be in Redmond: a portion of Northeast Union Hill Road, including a bridge over Evans Creek, that is being replaced and widened; and a portion of Perrigo Community Park that will be improved alongside 196th Avenue Northeast.

Despite being mostly outside the city limits, Cairns said the project, which also involves widening Northeast Novelty Hill Road, aligns with Redmond’s master plan as it will help divert some of the traffic traveling on the congested Avondale Road.

“Trying to put all the traffic onto Avondale Road was not part of the plan,” Cairns said. “I think people here within the city limits of Redmond, they like the idea of dispersing the traffic.”

Rick Brater, an engineering services manager with King County’s Department of Transportation working on the project, said extending 196th Avenue Northeast will provide a new route and a direct connection from Northeast Novelty Hill Road to Northeast Union Hill Road. The extension will also produce an alternative route for emergency response vehicles and reduce traffic from local drivers and those getting onto State Route 520.

“It’s just one more way to get around,” Brater said.

The project was awarded to Scarsella Bros., Inc., a construction company from Kent whose bid for the project was approximately $17.6 million, according to the King County website. Cairns said because such a small portion is in Redmond, the county will be funding the project.

The total cost of the first phase of the project — which includes connecting 196th Avenue Northeast to Northeast Novelty Hill Road, construction of the two roundabouts and widening Northeast Union Hill Road from 196th Avenue Northeast to 192nd Avenue Northeast to four lanes — will be about $29 million.

According to the county website, the second phase of the project will involve widening Novelty Hill Road to four lanes with five lanes in certain areas, from 234th Avenue Northeast to where phase one ends at 196th Avenue Northeast. The website also states that work on this portion of the project will be scheduled once funding is available. Cost estimations for phase two have not been completed, so the cost of this portion is still unknown.

Brater said everything at the moment is on schedule and the project will take about two years to complete.

“It’s such a big step for us to actually move forward with construction,” he said. “We look forward to building (the roadways).”

Once construction begins, lane closures will mainly be scheduled during off-hours, but drivers should still expect significant delays. To learn more about delays and detours and subscribe to King County’s email or text alert list, click here.