Walkway Project location markings appear in Sunset Ave roadway; city council set to discuss Tuesday

These location markers showing the configuration of the proposed Sunset Avenue Walkway appeared late this week.  The labels identify the location of the walkway, curb, clear space and traffic lane as they would be configured in the narrower northernmost stretch of Sunset.  Parking would not be allowed in the clear space, providing an 18-foot roadway for bicycles and vehicles to share. (Photo by Larry Vogel)
These location markers showing the configuration of the proposed Sunset Avenue Walkway appeared late this week. The labels identify the location of the walkway, curb, clear space and traffic lane as they would be configured in the narrower northernmost stretch of Sunset. Parking would not be allowed in the clear space, providing an 18-foot roadway for bicycles and vehicles to share. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

Walkers, joggers and other Sunset Avenue users are noticing something new: painted lines and labels in the roadway that appear to be preliminary location markings for the proposed Sunset Walkway Project. The markings stretch across the roadway about 50 yards south of the intersection with Caspers Street, and are divided into sections labeled path, curb, clear and lane.

My Edmonds News talked with Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams, who confirmed that the markings provide “a rough visual about how space would be allocated in this stretch of Sunset Avenue.” He went on to say that the markings show the proposed 10-foot multi-use pathway on the west, a 2-foot mountable curb, a 6-foot clear “no parking” zone, and a 12-foot travel lane to accommodate vehicles and bicycles.

“Keep in mind that cars can drive in the clear zone as necessary so there is actually 18 feet of pavement for vehicles to maneuver in,” Williams added. “This is more than enough to have a delivery vehicle parked and still get a car around.”

Artist's Conception: This rendering shows how the final project might look in this section of Sunset Avenue. (Illustration courtesy of City of Edmonds)
An artist’s conception shows how the final project might look in this section of Sunset Avenue. (Illustration courtesy of City of Edmonds)

The Sunset Walkway Project will be taken up this Tuesday by the Edmonds City Council, when the council will discuss project alternatives, stormwater issues/impacts, safety considerations including a fencing barrier between the path and the bluff, and various concerns expressed by citizens.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m.; see the full Council agenda here. An updated informational brochure about the Walkway Project is available here.

 — By Larry Vogel



  1. It would be wise to see a certified geotechnical report on this whole area BEFORE anymore $$$ or time is spent regarding the Sunset Walkway. I have not seen anything regarding this, and from the far west side of Sunset where the dirt path is to properties on Sunset, this whole area is listed by Washington State as a SEISMIC HAZARD AREA, which is on a hazard area map. There are special considerations and regulations for areas like this. I have seen no geotechnical report.

    *****Had this been done for the children’s spray-park, it would have been obvious that the soil/geography couldn’t accomodate the water tank for the spray-park. I don’t understand why THIS is not being done FIRST, particularily because it is so obvious that there are many areas in Edmonds where one can actually SEE where there may be problem areas. And all this $$$ spent first on drawings, ideas, etc. seems a waste if geography cannot even accommodate

  2. It never ceases to amaze me that the City Council has studies that are done and it becomes a foregone conclusion that money is going to be spent on the project. This includes the stupid bicycle symbols on Main; the idiotic bike symbols on 3rd; the Five Corners round-a-bout; and now the Sunset Walkway…all stupid development projects that improve NOTHING!

    These are simply foo-foo items that the City Council does in order to have something meaningless to point at and say “Look, we spent YOUR money” …unintended consequences is that these “Fire Hydrants” where the City Council marks their turf …..need long term maintenance.

    Typical lunacy of City Councils everywhere run amuk….spending everyone elses money….even in Edmonds!

  3. I like the idea of a walkway along Sunset. Beautification is important. Let’s showcase our jewel of a town and make the waterfront even more inviting! Look at Manhattan Beach and El Segundo in So. California- they have The Strand which skirts the coast with waterfront houses to one side and the Pacific on the other. It is used at all times of the day into the late evening by bicyclists, joggers, walkers and everyone! It’s a draw to the surrounding cities! Making our town even more walkable and pleasant to visit is the attitude that engenders vitality for a city! I do not see this as a waste in any way, if done properly- by getting the proper geological, traffic, etc. studies done. Oh, and this walkway would be even more enjoyable if we didn’t have to cover our ears whenever the DEAFENING train horns sound! I am very much in favor of creating a train horn quiet zone in Edmonds, as well.

  4. I find the the motivation for the opposition strange. A few activists are our in force to kill this project before it even get fully designed. Comparing Sunset to 5 corners is really a huge stretch. Sunset is inundated with people on sunny days. With far more walking in the street than on the sidewalk. Too bad more of the “silent majority” haven’t spoken up on this subject. The “politically connected” residents of Sunset have stated,” We don’t want any more people on Sunset” may have their way in the short term. Then when some unfortunate gets run over there (like happened on Walnut recently) , the city will pay off on a large lawsuit and then have to build the sidewalk anyway.

  5. I make it a point to stop along Sunset every time I am in the area, to take in the views and photograph passing trains, and I am not alone. Often, there are far more people enjoying the views from their cars, than from passing bikers or walkers. In short, you would be doing a HUGE disservice to push this project. Sometimes, it is better to do nothing. And this is one of those times.

  6. Lets see what the geotecnical reports say first regarding the area…..Whoever heard of landscape architecture design BEFORE anyone knows anything about the foundation of the earth in hazard areas as this……This is about science………and wasting money if the landscape will not accmodate this…….I.m not “connected.” to anybody and I resent that type of reference……..this is a critical seismic area……check wiith the state scientists

  7. Wow. Lots of reasons not to improve access to and enjoyment of our beloved shoreline vistas…and all in the name of science. But here’s the thing. We live in a seismic area, and geotechnical issues may or may not actually exist relative to the proposed Sunset Avenue improvements. If they do exist, geotechnical issues (slope instability) can be and are routinely addressed effectively by professional engineers. We can’t eliminate seismic risk altogether, but all future development cannot be held hostage because we in the greater Seattle area live in a seismic area

    This proposal, like the Seattle tunnel project (albeit on a smaller scale), can be a legacy project that will open up more of our waterfront for the enjoyment of future generations.

    We should not and cannot allow misunderstandings of the capabilities of modern engineering or fear of responsible development stand in the way of real and benefial community improvement.

    As for coal dust and radioactivity…can we add liquefaction and view blockage to the mix as well? All these specious arguments seem to play well in our fair town. Don’t like change? There’s always Eastern Washington. Oh wait, it’s changing too.

    • Steve– AMEN to your commentary– not just with respect to the Sunset Ave deal, but to other unrealistic prognostications made by people with respect to technical issues potentially impacting any planned (or conceived) project in our town. As a fellow engineer it bugs the daylights out of me when I hear or read of these dire assessments, just like I cringe every time the media refer to ‘concrete’ as ‘cement’!!

  8. The public and voters have clearly expressed a desire to improve access and usability of our shoreline with their responses in the Strategic Plan. The thrust of the SP comments is more access and improved access and connections with downtown. The improvements for Sunset fall right into line with elements of the SP. Yes there are construction issues to solve and yes we can look at the design elements to see if we could make improvements for less cost. This is all part of the process.

    Grants play a role in this project but it is not entirely clear what would be to total planned cost of the project and the sources of funds. If we do not proceed do we have to payback the grant money we have already used? Transparency and Accountability are also key elements of the SP and this would be a good place to start to show the public the full financial details for the improvements. Just a quick reminder, for each $1m needed from local funding the average cost is $60 for the average home value. The use of funds from grants and other funds already in place is still our money and we should all know where the source for all funding dollars.

    Some of the discussion in opposition has been generated by some who would want to Cling On to the past and resist change of any type. Change can be useful if planned correctly along the lines of community values. While gaining public input is important sometimes this process is used only to delay or cancel projects that are supported by the community at large.

  9. Tere ryder, seismic area means earthquake area. Do you mean to use the word that way? http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/seismic

    Now I wont disagree that we are in a seismic zone and we need to be prepared for the next big earthquake. If you or anyone in this community wants to be prepared they should get involved with the Emergency Services Coordinating Agency (ESCA).

    Frankly the section along sunset avenue will be the least of our problems in a seismic event. I can’t find it now but I have seen the earth maps for slide prone areas and there are much bigger problems along olympic view drive, the section south of picnic point and the ever present section in woodway that have been sliding and are prone to sliding in seismic and non seismic events.

    Also to make people aware that having a train horn quite zone is not a complete quite zone as specified by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the rules that the railroad follows. I wish you more research before advocating this option.

    • I have looked RECENTLY tat he Washington State SEISMIC HAZARD AREA map and Sunset Avenue is on it with the west sections of residence properties included. ……Also, the Dept of Transportation, Regulations one month ago put out a map that shows the rail line area from Seattle to Everett in RED, and that is another HAZARD AREA (mudslide) map that just came out……..Something is required to be done about it or some of the trains will have to be re-routed…..BNSF has already started building cement walls up by Everett, because of this.

      I live right by here so I do care if my studio goes floating off into the blue yonder. At least one driveway on Sunset within the past two weeks has a HUGE crack across it from just a bulldozer working on new development at a Sunset residence.

      • My research indicates that Landau & Associates did a geotechnical report on a large section of land by the water here in 1991. ……..If I remember correctly, that report spoke of liquification with the soil down there by the Waterfront Antique Mall. This is a local firm, RIGHT HERE in Edmonds. ……and yes, “professional engineers” can supposedly solve many problems (sort of…..I would say, look at the mess with the Seattle tunnel) and the millions!…..and this is what we are talking about…….Developing where there shouldn’t be development……and if it can be done usually costs millions in hazard areas

        Construction companies have a conflict of interest

  10. The artists rendering of the proposed project appears to leave out the existing dedicated bike lane and instead has “sharrows” — the completely useless painted stencils of bicycles and arrows. Is removing a lane dedicated to bicycles really being proposed? That would be a misguided and unsafe proposal.

    Otherwise, opening up Sunset Avenue to be enjoyed by all the citizens of Edmonds (who own it) and not just the wealthy property owners is a great idea.

  11. Nathan, I am on the committee to make Edmonds a train horn quiet zone (QZ) and I AM quite aware of the options available, the potential health benefits of a quiet zone, the April 2008 evaluation done by the city, the probable costs, the establishment of a LID, the history and progress of the QZ in East Vancouver, WA, and how a QZ would make the waterfront much more pleasant, while still being safe for our residents, among other benefits. But I didn’t discuss it in my comment about the development of the Sunset waterfront area. Just mentioned it in passing. Another topic.

  12. Maureen,
    As noted on the Vancouver Quite Zone page:
    “It is important to note that although a train horn quiet zone has been set forth, if a train operator perceives a hazard on or near the tracks, the train horn will be used to warn that the train is coming.” Does the Vancouver Quite Zone have the same noise makers as the Tacoma Quite Zone?

  13. Absolutely, Phil. Thanks for shining the bright light of professional engineering knowledge and expertise on those who would use uninformed and pseudo scientific scare tactics to serve their personal agendas. Our beautiful city needs to move forward progressively and to the benefit of the great majority. Responsible and enlightened vision from our city leaders, staff, and citizenry, supported by professional engineering and planning (and unincumbered by the self-interest of a few) will help take us to the next level.

    The Sunset Avenue Walkway project is feasible from an engineering and constructabiliy standpoint. It would be a great asset to our community. And if coal dust, radioactivity, explosive, or other risks and environmental issues associated with railroad operations do exist (and that remains debatable), they will exist with or without the proposed improvements.

    Let’s build this project and make Edmonds a better place to live. I have no problem with my tax dollars or Council deliberations being spent on projects like this.

  14. Whose pockets are getting lined by this project and other faux projects (5-corners, etc) like this one around the city? Smells fishy…

  15. As the money for the grant has come from the Federal Highway Administration, I don’t believe this would be considered valid for the information that was given on the application of the grant which I have just read, Project Identification and Description.

    There are omissions and errors on the application and non disclosures. ***** I believe this would be considered Federal fraud for obtaining the grant money without answering all the questions correctly and honestly . The biggest ommission would be NOT disclosing that this Federal grant money is being used on land that is NOT owned by the applicant of the grant, the City Of Edmonds. This is very clear on the application that this was not disclosed………by ommission. Other untruths are on this application also. I don’t think the Feds will think this is ok and it is very CLEAR when you read about the criteria for obtaining Federal grant money.

    And this appears to be the same for the Federal Grant for the Five Corners Project. I have not been able to see at all how the Five Corners Project matches what the grant is for……and I’m sure there are many other areas that could actually use the grant $$$ for its original intent.

    From what I have read regarding getting Federal Grant money, one can’t just string things along and make them FIT for the grant $$$……I guess I wonder what all of this is about also

  16. The 2009 Comprehensive Transportation Plan included a Traffic Calming Program (Appendix B). I believe $50,000 was budgeted in 2011 for this program.

    The Traffic Calming Program consists of a three-phase process:

    Phase 1 – Petition and Review for Qualification: To begin the process, residents submit a petition for local street traffic concerns, and the City reviews the application and investigates the site to determine if the application qualifies for the Traffic Calming Program.

    Phase 2 – Education and Enforcement: Focuses on education and enforcement solutions that could include educational flyers, police enforcement, a neighborhood speed watch, signing, and/or striping modifications. If those solutions are not effective in reducing speed or cut-through traffic, then the process moves on to Phase 3.

    Phase 3 – Installation of Traffic Calming Device: Consists of working with residents to identify the appropriate traffic calming device to be installed. If approved by residents in the affected area, the device is planned for installation.

    The Traffic Calming Program involves significant RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT. For example, residents are required in Phase 1 to submit a petition related to their local street traffic concerns and the petition requires a MINIMUM of 8 signatures. Furthermore, Phase 3 states that a device is planned for installation if such is APPROVED by residents in the area.

    If Sunset Avenue required traffic calming consideration, why wasn’t it just added (after resident petition) to the Traffic Calming Priority List along with the 23 STRETCHES of roadway already on that list?

    If calming traffic was not an issue on Sunset Avenue, why did the budget amendment state that narrowing the street and moving the parking adjacent to the travel lane are traffic calming features that should reduce traffic speeds and improve conditions for non-motorized users?

    I am puzzled by the Sunset Avenue portion of the budget amendment passed via Ordinance No. 3857.

  17. Additional related information taken from the December 6, 2011 City Council Meeting Agenda:

    Traffic Calming Program:
    In 2011, Council authorized $50,000 for the Traffic Calming Program. With this funding, staff conducted speed studies along 23 street segments where citizens have expressed speeding concerns in the past. Each segment was evaluated based on a set of criteria and ranked in a priority list (see attachment). The traffic calming funds are providing three radar feedback signs at: (1) Northbound Olympic View Dr.; (2) Southbound Olympic View Dr; and (3)Northbound Olympic Avenue. Funds were also used to develop a conceptual drawing of the Sunset Avenue Walkway project between Bell St. and Caspers St. The walkway project proposes to install a sidewalk and bike lane on the west side of the street by narrowing the roadway width. This project is expected to reduce speeds along this stretch (serving as a traffic calming measure) and improve the safety of the non-motorized transportation users.

    Based on the 2012-2017 CIP, $10,000 has been budgeted each year for this program from 2012 to 2014. In 2012, this amount will fund new speed studies / evaluations and the installation costs of traffic calming devices at one or two locations from the priority list (semi-permanent radar feedback signs that can be relocated from one location to another, bulb-outs, pedestrian refuge islands, traffic circle or speed cushions). If additional funding is provided in 2012, staff recommends funding a mid-block pedestrian crossing in the Main St. project between 5th Ave. and 6th Ave. (~ total cost: $30,000 / currently in design phase).

    The Traffic Calming Priority List referred to above can be found at the following link:



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