The twisty, scenic roads that encircle Lake Sammamish — with their narrow shoulders and few turn lanes — have long proved challenging...

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The twisty, scenic roads that encircle Lake Sammamish — with their narrow shoulders and few turn lanes — have long proved challenging for commuters, bicyclists and residents.

Making changes to improve safety and traffic flow has been equally challenging.

Redmond and Bellevue officials spent months debating with homeowners along West Lake Sammamish Parkway before they were able to widen the road, add shoulders and make other improvements.

Now Sammamish is putting together its own project along the two-lane stretch of East Lake Sammamish Parkway that runs through town. And some residents are echoing the concerns of their neighbors across the lake.

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The project — which could include bike lanes, roundabouts, a sidewalk, overhead lighting and new left-turn lanes — would affect a three-mile stretch between Northeast Inglewood Hill Road and 187th Avenue Northeast, where Sammamish borders Redmond.

Residents say they fear they’ll hit passing bicyclists when they emerge from steep driveways. They don’t see how the changes will improve congestion and say adding bike lanes is unnecessary since bicyclists could use the nearby East Lake Sammamish Trail.

“What we are against is unnecessary spending on things that don’t contribute to traffic flow or safety,” said John Stilz, who lives along the parkway and is rallying neighbors against the project.

Information

East Lake Sammamish Parkway project:

Visit www.ci.sammamish.wa.us/ELSP.aspx for more information or call project manager Jeff Brauns at 425-836-7923. The city plans to hold an open house in February.

Sammamish is moving forward, however, hoping to discourage speeding, increase bicycle and pedestrian access and improve traffic flow by making it easier to make turns. City staff presented four design options to the City Council earlier this month and will hold the third of four open houses in February. The project’s estimated cost is $30 million, said public-works director Delora Kerber, and the city hopes the money will come from a combination of city, state and federal governments. Construction wouldn’t begin until 2008, after most of a state project to widen Highway 202 and improve access to Highway 520 is complete.

The two designs favored by city staff would add a sidewalk along the road’s eastern side, bike lanes in both directions to accommodate bicyclists who commute and landscaping along the median or between the bikers and walkers. One of those options would elevate the northbound lanes and lower the southbound lanes.

Comment forms the city has received so far show strong support for tucking utility lines underground and installing left-turn lanes, a strong dislike of roundabouts and a split regarding whether sidewalks should be installed.

Neighbor Ramiro Valderrama said he would welcome some changes to the parkway, such as better lighting, bus service and improved access to the East Lake Sammamish Trail. But he said he isn’t clear how the changes will ease congestion.

Sammamish’s comprehensive plan calls for the city to improve the entire section of East Lake Sammamish Parkway that runs through town. A southern section between 212th Way Southeast and the city’s border with Issaquah is scheduled for improvements within the next 10 years. The remainder, between 212th and Inglewood Hill Road, is scheduled for work within 20 years. Redmond also has plans for improvements along its share of the eastern parkway, Kerber said.

Redmond recently added bike lanes and a pedestrian shoulder to its portion of West Lake Sammamish Parkway on the lake’s opposite shore after months of debate with homeowners over adding bike lanes.

Bellevue’s City Council approved its own West Lake Sammamish Parkway improvement project last spring after agreeing with homeowners to forgo separate lanes for bicyclists. Instead, pedestrians and bikers will share a widened shoulder. It was the city’s second go at widening the road after a failed attempt in 1997.

Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or kgaudette@seattletimes.com