Citizens come out to discuss safety issues surrounding planned sidewalk projects
Updated with links to maps for each project.
A group of about 40 citizens attended a City of Edmonds-sponsored meeting at Sherwood Elementary Wednesday night, where they had a chance to express their ideas and concerns about three new sidewalks planned for neighborhoods near Sherwood Elementary and Madrona K-8 School.
After city staff provided a brief overview of the three projects, they broke attendees into three smaller groups, each devoted to one of the walkway projects (click the link on each designation to see a map):
All three projects are being funded with about $1.5 million in state and federal “Safe Routes to School” grant money, and will focus on sidewalks that encourage safe bicycling and walking; the 238th Street sidewalk project will be combined with an already planned drainage project for the area, which is located near the Klahaya Swim and Tennis Club.
During the smaller group sessions, citizens were asked to provide their opinions on which side of the street the sidewalk for each project should be installed, and any related ideas or concerns. Since My Edmonds News wasn’t able to be at all three sessions, we focused on the one we had covered in a past story — the area of 238th Street Southwest near Madrona K-8 School.
Keogh Singkeo, the mom interviewed for our June 2013 story, attended the meeting Tuesday night with her husband and her two children, Raymond and Sarah. Raymond attends the Madrona K-8 School’s deaf student program, and his daily walk to school with his sister includes approximately 50 yards of narrow, no-shoulder roadway to reach the marked crosswalk to the school grounds. In the morning he must walk to school with his back to the traffic. Singkeo reiterated her concern to the city staff member leading the 236th Street walkway discussion — Capital Project Manager Ryan Hague — that the current street configuration is an accident waiting to happen.
Raymond and Sarah each addressed the group with their own comments. “I want to walk my bike to school,” Ryan said. “I’m afraid the cars are going to run over me.” Added Sarah: “My brother is deaf and we have to walk side by side to communicate. But with this we have to walk in a single-file line down 236th to the crosswalk, so it makes it hard for me to tell him when a car is coming.”
Hague said the current plan is to place the sidewalk on the south side of 236th — the same side of the street where the school is located — but acknowledged that such a configuration wouldn’t help Raymond and other Madrona students who currently live on the north side of the street. Putting a sidewalk on the north could be “profoundly more expensive” due to additional work that would be required, Hague said, although he was quick to add that city officials still need to closely examine the idea before making a final decision.
“With all due respect, I understand the expense of it,” said Kimberly Morris, who also lives in the neighborhood and was attending the meeting with her husband Andrew. “It might be profoundly more expensive but it would be profoundly more useful.”
Hague noted that the city is also exploring other options for making the area safer for student walkers and other pedestrians, including the installation of a marked crosswalk — possibly elevated and illuminated with lights and flashing beacons — further away from the school to ensure students can get to the other side of 236th Street Southwest sooner.
City of Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams said staff will compare notes on the comments made at all three small sessions, and determine whether another meeting needs to be held prior to construction.
Design contracts were recently approved by the city council for all three projects, and survey work was just finished on 15th Street Southwest. Surveyors will do work on 236th and 238th in next month or two, staff said. The tentative schedule calls for construction to be completed on the 15th Street project this fall, with the other two projects to be finished in the spring and summer of 2015.