The city of Covington held an informational open house Oct. 29 to discuss the Covington Connector project.
The Covington Connector is a two phase project that is estimated to cost $24 million. The city received funding from a “Connecting Washington Legislative Appropriation” fund, as well as development fees associated with Lakepointe Development, according to Covington City Engineer, Bob Lindskov.
The project will connect Southeast 256th Street at the state Route 18 on and off ramps, to SR 516 along the existing corridor, it stated on the Covington calendar event on its website regarding the open house.
It also stated Phase 1 of the project includes widening along SR 516 from 201st Avenue Southeast to 207th Avenue Southeast, as well as reconstructing the existing 204th Avenue Southeast corridor.
The second phase of the project includes constructing a new roadway connecting the existing north terminus of 204th Avenue Southeast to SR 18 eastbound on and off ramps through the existing “Hawk gravel pit,” it said on the city’s website.
The project, the website said, is primarily a three lane urban roadway, which includes a curb, gutter, sidewalks, bike lanes and landscaping.
Currently, the project is entering the “Right of Way” (ROW) phase, which acquires the necessary property to widen the 204th corridor, the website calendar description continued.
Lindskov said the city is looking to go to advertisement for the project in spring of 2019 and then he said they hope to start construction of Phase 1 in summer of 2019.
The estimated completion of Phase 1 is a year to a year and a half after construction starts in the summer.
He said the advertising for Phase 2 should begin within a year or so.
During construction of the Covington Connector, traffic control is still under discussion.
“At this point, all the traffic control is yet to be determined and we’re going to work with the consultant to create some traffic control plans and of course once you bring a contract on board they will have ideas themselves in how they would like to do the work,” Lindskov explained.
Construction of the roadway would likely move to nighttime construction, but as of right now, Lindskov said that is not allowed within city limits.
He said they have to go to council once the contract is sorted out, and see if they can change the city code to allow night work for a project like this or apply a noise variance.
A noise variance allows “you to vary the limits of noise control code under specific circumstances, usually for a limited period of time,” it said on Seattle.gov.
Once construction is complete, Lindskov said the hope is there will be better circulation of traffic in the city.
“Basically this road will allow more circulation within the city. It kind of gives us redundant options if traffic is bad on one or the other,” Lindskov said. “As of right now if traffic gets bad on Kent Kangley. Westbound traffic just comes to a standstill.”
He said in an environment statement and study, as much as one third of the traffic could peel off of Kent Kangley, especially in the morning. And then one third of that westbound traffic could end up circulating down the Covington Connector to access Highway 18 instead of going through downtown.
During the open house, Lindskov said the thing that seemed most well received was that there will be a new traffic signal on 516 and 204th Avenue.
“There’s significant eastbound left turns that try to turn there now without a turn pocket and they block a lot of the eastbound through vehicles and basically a lot of people are using other routes to get up to Maple Hills and the traffic signal will kind of put them all on the road they should be on rather than cutting through neighborhoods,” Lindskov said.
He said once he announced this traffic signal, people in the audience literally cheered for joy.
“I just think the project is great and I think it’s going to do wonders for the city,” Lindskov said.