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ISSAQUAH, WA-Extensive development during the 1990′s dried up the amount of water available for new construction here—leaving future projects dangling from a new 24″ water main. Like a chain of dominos, utility and infrastructure shortcomings in Issaquah have impacted developers and other local companies.

For starters, water is so scarce here the city is only able to permit very small projects—those needing no more than the equivalent of three residences’ worth of water. And, that looks to remain the status quo until a new 24″ water main from Bellevue to Issaquah is completed sometime within the next year. Assuming a necessary permit is forthcoming.

Port Blakely Communities, developer of the Issaquah Highlands, a 3,250-home master-planned community, traded its commitment to construct the main (from Bellevue to Issaquah) for access to the current water for its massive project. Once the $16-million to $18-million water main is in, ownership will be transferred to the city, giving it a new resource for further development. The problem is, a construction permit from the state’s Department of Transportation has not been forthcoming—putting the whole process on hold.

The stall can be found at Lakemont Boulevard, just west of Issaquah off State Route 900, where connection of completed sections on either hide hinges on the DOT allowing Port Blakely to bore beneath the road. Butch Weiher, a construction inspector with the city tells GlobeSt, “The section I’m working on is 85% complete. The second is being held up by permit issues with the DOT.” Just exactly what those issues are is unclear, and GlobeSt was unable to reach a transportation department official for clarification on deadline.

Infrastructure problems such as water issues and roads have kept Redmond-based Microsoft from moving forward with its construction of a 2.95-million-sf campus in the Issaquah Highlands. This spring the software giant sent a letter to the city stating it was postponing development for a year, citing the infrastructure and permitting hurdles. Just last week a Microsoft spokesperson told GlobeSt, “…we’re not planning to start until the (permitting and utility) issues are resolved.”

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