Funding our future: Issaquah secures funding for bike/ped projects

Photo courtesy of the city of Issaquah

On Tuesday, Jan. 20, Issaquah city council passed a new transportation concurrency plan that will ensure a dedicated funding pool for bicycle and pedestrian projects as the the city of Issaquah grows.

As required by the Washington State Growth Management Act, the city of Issaquah must mitigate traffic impacts that result from new development. In short, if a new business comes into Issaquah it will likely generate more traffic, so developers are required to pay upfront fees that will help the city improve public facilities, like sidewalks and roads where more people will be driving, walking and biking.

As part of the recently adopted ordinance, developers will be charged bicycle and pedestrian impact fees that will go toward funding key active transportation projects in Central Issaquah. These projects will help support Issaquah’s Walk and Roll Action Strategy goals of building out more bikeable and walkable neighborhoods. This will ensure real transportation options exist for getting around Issaquah.

“We are excited to have a new funding source to build needed bike and pedestrian facilities in Issaquah... [these new facilities will] inspire new walkers and rollers to help us achieve our healthy and sustainable community, climate and active mobility goals.”
-David Favour, Issaquah Deputy Director of Development Services

Key projects in the Walk and Roll Action Strategy include a bike lane ramp for Newport Way Northwest with a bridge over Issaquah Creek, a Pickering Trail connection to 12th Avenue Northwest/17th Avenue Northwest and bike lanes along Northeast Gilman and Third Avenue.

As Issaquah prepares for growth, with over 10,000 additional dwelling units needed by 2030, it has also set an ambitious goal to increase the non-motorized mode-split by 10 percent by 2030. This means the city is in need of more pedestrian and bicycle facilities to help mitigate traffic congestion. New impact fees will enable Issaquah the opportunity to provide more non-motorized connections between key destinations.

Although recent WSDOT grant funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects identified $160 million for projects, the state was only able to fund $26 million, giving cities fewer dollars to support important projects. Many cities around the state face funding challenges when it comes to building out bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and cities, like Issaquah, must come up with creative solutions to fund their increasingly important bicycle and pedestrian projects.

Issaquah will now be using impact fees to address this challenge.

“We are excited to have a new funding source to build needed bike and pedestrian facilities in Issaquah,” says says Issaquah’s Deputy Director of Development Services, David Favour. He believes these new facilities will “inspire new walkers and rollers to help us achieve our healthy and sustainable community, climate and active mobility goals.” 

"By supporting biking and walking we can give more folks alternatives to their cars,” Favour noted.

From improving air quality and congestion, to supporting healthy lifestyles and attracting talented millennials who want to live in walkable and bikeable communities, the benefits of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure extend far and wide, and we are pleased to see Issaquah taking major steps toward “funding our future,” which is a key component Cascade’s recently adopted strategic plan.

By setting aside funds for bike/ped projects, the city of Issaquah is paving the way toward building out more bike lanes and sidewalks that will help make the city and our region as a whole an even better place to live.