A small group of about 10 citizens attended an open house in the City of Edmonds Public Works Building on Wednesday, June 18, to discuss the two upcoming transportation projects on 76th Avenue West. Individually, the projects concern:
• 76th Avenue West and 212th Street Southwest intersection improvements
• 76th Avenue West re-striping from 220th Street Southwest to Olympic View Drive
The open house was put on by the City of Edmonds in conjunction with the design consultant for both projects, David Evans & Associates. The meeting consisted of a presentation outlining the proposed changes, led by the Edmonds City Transportation Engineer, Bertrand Hauss, and the design consultant, Kurt Harris. Attendees also had the opportunity to ask questions as they arose throughout the meeting.
The proposed 76th Avenue West and 212th Street Southwest intersection improvements were discussed first, as 60 percent of the designs are complete. The current intersection provides a left-turn lane only for eastbound and westbound cars, and a right-turn lane only for eastbound cars. The future intersection will include an added left-turn lane for cars heading both northbound and southbound, as well as a right-turn lane for cars heading westbound, northbound and southbound. When complete, the intersection will have lanes for turning left and right, as well as a through lane in every direction, which should reduce the intersection delay by 30 to 40 seconds. By 2030, as a result of these changes, the intersection will meet the city’s Level of Service (LOS) Standards for travel time.
This three-lane proposal will allow the city to add bike lanes and widen sidewalks, increasing the buffer between pedestrians and moving cars. The city also intends to improve water, sewer and storm water utilities, while converting the existing above-ground power, phone and cable lines to underground lines. Some concerns were expressed about how this change would affect the surrounding residences, but it appears the details of the proposed utility improvements are still being discussed. “We just started utility meetings with a different utility company, and when we have our next meeting – which will probably be in the next couple of months – we will definitely bring [that concern] up,” Hauss responded.
The 76th Avenue West and 212th Street Southwest intersection improvements have been in the works for over 10 years, and were mentioned in the city Transportation Improvement Program twice in a row. However, when first considering the intersection improvements, city planners realized more work in the surrounding area of 76th Avenue West could be done as well.
As a result, the designed three-lane intersection would also dovetail with a separate proposal for re-striping changes on 76th from 220th Street Southwest to Olympic View Drive. From 220th Street Southwest to 204th Street Southwest, the City of Edmonds intends to convert the existing four-lane street – with two northbound lanes and two southbound lanes – into a three-lane street with one northbound lane, one southbound lane, and one center turn lane to help locals turn into and out of the various driveways located along 76th. The city also intends to add bike lanes on either side, to continue the buffer between cars and pedestrians, as the high concentration of schools and commercial venues lead to a greater number of pedestrians in the area.
The plans for the section of 76th that spans 204th to Olympic View Drive are still being formulated, as the City of Lynnwood — which shares the road with Edmonds — has just recently joined the project. The section under consideration is currently a wide two-lane road, with parking spots on both sides. The tentative future plans show Lynnwood maintaining the parking on its side of the road, while Edmonds discards its parking area and adds a bike lane on both sides. The lack of a left-turn lane in this section on 76th may be detrimental to traffic, so the city intends to continue working with Lynnwood to come up with a solution, such as possibly narrowing the existing lanes.
The intersection improvements will be funded by the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant, which will provide approximately $940,000 to the design and right-of-way phases and $3,020,000 to the construction phase of the project. The re-striping project, on the other hand, will be funded using part of a joint grant awarded by the Verdant Health Commission to the cities of Edmonds, Lynnwood, and Mountlake Terrace.
Though the improvements will take a lot of time and effort, Edmonds resident Carolyn Acheson, who attended Wednesday night’s meeting, sees the advantages in the project; specifically in adding the center turn lane. “I live on 76th, across from College Place Middle School, and there are a lot traffic problems right now,” she said. “The meeting was very worthwhile, especially for people who will be affected by all of this… I wish we’d had more people attending.”
The design phase for both projects is scheduled to be completed in December 2015, at the same time the right-of-way work related to the 76th/212th intersection improvements is expected to be finished. Construction for both projects is set to begin in the spring of 2016, and be completed by the end of that year. The city intends to complete one quadrant of construction at a time, to minimize the impact on commuters and students traveling through the area. Another public meeting will be held before construction begins, most likely in December 2015.
— Story and photo by Caitlin Plummer