Workers Monday began demolition of the Paragon Hotel, in preparation for extending Northeast 10th Street across Interstate 405. The new overpass will create a vital new connection between downtown and the burgeoning medical district east of the freeway.
The hotel, empty since May 2007, is located at 818 112th Ave. N.E., where 10th Street downtown currently terminates. When the project is finished in late 2009, the new section of 10th will provide another much-needed link from 112th Avenue Northeast, on the west side of I-405, and 116th Avenue Northeast on the east side, where Group Health and Overlake medical facilities are.
The state Department of Transportation (WSDOT), in partnership with the City of Bellevue, is in charge of the bridge work; the contractor is Kuney Construction. Demolition of the Paragon will take place through the month of March, during the daytime to reduce nighttime noise.
For Bellevue residents and for commuters, the new section of Northeast 10th Street offers several benefits:
- Medical access: Connects downtown to the medical district east of I-405, where Overlake Hospital recently completed its South Tower expansion and Group Health is finishing work on its new facility. Tenth Street will run between the two buildings with a pedestrian tunnel under the roadway connecting them.
- Transportation link: With the rapid growth in Bellevue, this project provides another option for moving traffic in and out of downtown. By 2020, the number of people who work downtown is expected to grow by 80 percent; to 63,000, while the number of downtown residents is forecast to rise by 210 percent, to 14,000.
- Alternative to Northeast Eighth Street: The new section of road is expected to provide much needed congestion relief to Northeast Eighth Street, the main east-west arterial across I-405 and one of the city's busiest roadways. It will also give pedestrians and cyclists another option for crossing the highway.
Goran Sparrman, director of Bellevue's Transportation Department, said the Northeast 10th Street project fits well with the Bellevue Mobility Initiative, which aims to create a balanced transportation system that better reflects the city's emerging urban environment.
"As downtown Bellevue continues its remarkable growth, the street system is struggling to keep up. The extension of Northeast 10th can act as a valve to help reduce pressure on downtown streets," Sparrman said. "But at the same time, to have a healthy transportation system we need to step up our effort to move solo drivers out of their cars and into alternative forms of transportation."
WSDOT's Northeast 10th Street work is one of several projects on I-405 designed to ease congestion. Other WSDOT projects in Bellevue include adding lanes to I-405 in South Bellevue, currently underway, and Access Downtown, which was completed in 2004 and improved traffic flow by adding new ramps and bridges.
Tenth Street is being extended in two stages. Stage 1, a new section of roadway from 116th Avenue Northeast to the east edge of I-405, is being built by the City of Bellevue and is scheduled for completion in May of this year. The total cost for both stages of the project is $62.3 million.
Longer-range plans call for the addition of a northbound ramp from Northeast 10th that will connect to State Route 520, replacing the northbound SR 520 connection from Northeast Eighth in use today. This "Braided Crossing" project is designed to reduce the weave between traffic headed north on I-405 and traffic headed for SR 520.
Bellevue is working closely with the Department of Transportation to minimize noise impacts and traffic disruption. Throughout the Northeast 10th Street project, the northbound lane of 112th Avenue Northeast near the hotel site will be closed intermittently, and a temporary closure in both directions will be required in the future for paving and traffic signal modifications. There may also be delays on southbound I-405 due to visual distractions.
In addition to the extension of 10th Street across I-405, the hotel site eventually will include a storm water pond to store and filter runoff from the roadway. Workers will add extensive landscaping and seating areas, creating a new green spot in downtown Bellevue.
The two-story, 208-room Paragon Hotel opened in 1969. At various times, it has been a Thunderbird Motor Inn, Red Lion, Doubletree Hotel and Ramada Inn. WSDOT purchased the 3.5-acre property and the hotel was closed in May 2007 in preparation for the bridge project.
WSDOT Traffic Alerts offers information about alternate routes. WSDOT NE 10th Street provides more information about the project in general.
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