What’s next for much-debated improvements on Sunset Avenue in Edmonds? Possibly some additional parallel parking spaces, improvements for residents’ driveways and better signage, City of Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams told the council’s Parks, Planning and Public Works Committee Tuesday night.
The city has “some unfinished business” regarding the scenic downtown roadway, Williams said — in particular, deciding how many additional parallel parking stalls could be added now that the controversial angle parking has been removed. As a result, parking on the street was reduced from 21 spaces to approximately 11, and the city is thinking about adding more parallel spaces.
During his presentation Tuesday, Williams told the council committee — which consists of Chair Neil Tibbott and Councilmember Kristiana Johnson — that staff conducted a turning radius study on Sunset to determine where to place additional parallel parking spaces so that residents could comfortably enter and leave their driveways.
The city in late June then used spray paint to lightly mark several addition “potential” spaces along the northern section of Sunset Avenue. Following that effort, staff had conversations with nearby residents about the trial spaces, and Williams noted that many were concerned that the additional spaces as placed would make it hard to come and go from their driveways.
The main reason for this, he explained, is substandard driveway widths and driveway aprons (the area between the sidewalk and the curb) –– “and that’s where we can help,” Williams said. To address the issue, he proposed that the city spend $46,000 to improve the areas where these problem Sunset Avenue driveways meet the street. The funding would come from savings in the budget for other Sunset-related tasks that have already been completed.
Other proposed Sunset improvements would include restriping of existing parallel parking spaces, plus efforts to discourage wrong-way driving at the Caspers Street/Second Avenue North interchange, which contributes to the between 12 and 24 people who drive the wrong way on Sunset Avenue each week.
“We now technically don’t let people turn left onto 2nd Avenue when they are westbound on Caspers (Street),” Williams said. “That’s not an approved movement.” The only legal travel is to proceed north on 2nd and then turn right on Caspers to exit.
The entrance to 2nd Avenue North is a “one-way in” street — which was approved 20-plus years ago to prevent young people from cruising the area, Williams said. In addition to adding signage that flashes “Wrong Way” as people begin to drive along Caspers toward Sunset, Williams recommended the city consider allowing people to legally turn left onto 2nd Avenue North.
Now, in order to exit, drivers headed the wrong way on Caspers are forced to “back up onto a busy state highway” or turn around in someone’s residential driveway, he added.
Williams also proposed adding better signage overall along Sunset in an effort to prevent illegal parking there.
The city is planning to eventually place a raised curb along the walkway’s edge to separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic. But since Sunset will be impacted by a series of utility construction projects over the next several years, Williams is recommending that the pedestrian curb work be postponed until the final Sunset improvements are made.
Further discussion on these issues will occur at a future council business meeting, and residents will be notified in advance when the item will appear on the agenda, Williams said.
— By Teresa Wippel