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Originally published May 3, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 3, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Redmond drivers may get reprieve

Two new projects promise to relieve some traffic congestion in Redmond. Thursday, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) broke ground...

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Two new projects promise to relieve some traffic congestion in Redmond.

Thursday, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) broke ground for a flyover ramp that will connect westbound Highway 520 to westbound Highway 202, while King County chose a preferred alternative to address the bottleneck on Northeast Novelty Hill Road.

The flyover ramp carries vehicles directly from Highway 202 onto Highway 520, so drivers won't have to wait at an onramp signal. It is expected to reduce travel times on Highway 520 between West Lake Sammamish Parkway Northeast and Highway 202.

The flyover project includes widening Highway 520 in Redmond from two to four lanes by adding a merging lane and a car-pool lane in both directions on the highway. The project ties into planned widening of 202 from 520 to Sahalee Way and the 520 bridge-replacement and HOV-lanes project.

It will be a boon for commuters, according to the DOT.

Widening Highway 520 will reduce peak morning-commute times by 60 percent and reduce peak evening-commute times by 75 percent, the department said. It also will eliminate the single-lane bottleneck between Highway 202 and Avondale Road Northeast.

Transit, car pools and van pools also will benefit, because they will be able to more easily approach the east end of the Highway 520 floating bridge.

Crews expect to complete the ramp late this winter or next spring. Construction of a second stage will begin in 2009. The entire project should be completed by the end of 2011.

The $102.3 million tab for the project will be covered by money generated from a 2003 nickel gas tax.

Change is also on the way for the Northeast Novelty Hill Road area. This week King County selected a preferred alternative for:

• Reconstructing and extending 196th Avenue Northeast between Union Hill Road and Novelty Hill Road to provide a new north-south connection and relieve congestion at Novelty Hill Road and Avondale Way.

• Widening several blocks of Union Hill Road west of 196th Avenue Northeast. This will connect to the new five-lane section that Redmond has constructed on Union Hill Road.

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• Realigning and widening Novelty Hill Road between 196th Avenue Northeast and Trilogy Way, including building new roundabouts at the intersections with 196th Avenue Northeast and 208th Avenue Northeast.

The project is now in the initial design phase, said Rick Brater, manager of engineering services for King County Roads.

The first phase of the project, the reconstruction of 196th Avenue Northeast, is expected to begin in 2009.

The $80 million capital improvement project will provide a better grid on which to travel east and west through the area, Brater said.

"This provides an alternative for people getting to 520 than having to sit in the traffic on Avondale," he said.

Amy Roe: 206-464-3347 or aroe@seattletimes.com

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