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Group celebrates completion of Highway 99 sidewalk section

Vicki Fitzsimmons brought a stack of handouts from May 2006 to Thursday’s celebration for completion of a sidewalk project along the east side of Northeast Highway 99.

Fitzsimmons, president of the Sherwood Hills Neighborhood Association, is grateful to see a 0.3-mile stretch of sidewalk completed, from Northeast 122nd Street to Northeast 129th Street in Hazel Dell.

The 2006 handout, however, was about how Highway 99 would be improved between Northeast 99th Street and Northeast 117th Street, with bicycle lanes and sidewalks, a project that got derailed before its intended construction in 2011 and 2012.

“This stretch of Highway 99 has been on my radar screen for a long time,” Fitzsimmons told about 50 people who gathered in the parking lot at Salmon Creek United Methodist Church. “I have a disabled son. It’s very important that he is able to walk safely on the street.”

Thursday’s event recognized the county’s latest project to make Highway 99 a more walkable corridor.

The new sidewalk includes sitting areas with benches and pervious concrete that allows rain to drain through the pavement. A small amount of work still needs to be done, namely planting vegetation next month.

Clark County already is planning a larger project that would build sidewalks on both sides of Highway 99, between 99th and 117th streets.

Ahmad Qayoumi, public works director, said this future project would cost $23 million to $27 million.

“Be patient with us,” Qayoumi said. “It takes a little bit of time.”

Councilor Julie Olson also spoke during Thursday’s short event under sunny skies and supported building more sidewalks on the commercial thoroughfare.

“Highway 99 is a priority, not just for me but for the council,” Olson said.

Scott Sawyer, a county project manager, said after Thursday’s event that several items will make future sidewalk construction more expensive, including the need to widen Highway 99 to put the sidewalks in and to update pedestrian crossings.

So far, the county has only $300,000 to $400,000 for the project and has no date set for construction.

“It’s going to depend on when the funding is available,” Sawyer said.

Fitzsimmons said she is happy with the recently completed section, but she will continue to push to see sidewalks built to the south.

“I think we need to keep being the squeaky wheel,” she said. “That is what it takes to make things happen.”


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