The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night learned that the city has a lot of work to do — and a lot of money to spend — to ensure that Edmonds’ sidewalks, curb ramps and traffic signals are accessible to people with disabilities.
Transportation engineer Bertrand Haus told the council that the city in late 2016 hired a consultant to prepare an updated American with Disabilities (ADA) Transition Plan to address physical obstacles within the city’s right-of-way and whether the city is meeting ADA legal requirements. The last time the city updated its plan was 25 years ago, Haus said. A city building facilities plan regarding ADA access was completed in 2015 and the city’s parks department is scheduled to complete its plan in 2018-19, he added.
Development of the plan involved a five-member committee of citizens with disabilities, and the public was also asked to review and comment on it, Haus explained.
You can see the plan, completed by MIG out of Portland, Ore., here.
There are approximately 2,000 existing curb ramps in the city, along with 72 miles of sidewalks and 23 signals, and those were all reviewed, he said. The city was also required to develop a schedule for improving identified deficiencies and a funding strategy.
Charts were created to prioritize the projects needing the most urgent attention, so that those can be addressed first when future funding is available.
Out of the city’s 2,000 curb ramps, only about 200 were identified as not being deficient, and those were part of recently completed new construction projects, such as the 238th Street Walkway.
The total cost to make all the improvements identified: $151.5 million. The city’s current total annual budget for these improvements is $220,000. “So if you do the math, it will take us about 500 years to reach this $150 million,” Haus said.
Haus also presented a list of funding strategies, including continued improvements through new road projects, adding funding for repairs in future budgets, requiring developers to remove access barriers, and applying ADA-specific grant money.
The council agreed to place acceptance of the ADA plan on the consent agenda at the next council meeting, which will be Monday, Nov. 6. (There’s no meeting next week, Oct. 31, because it’s the fifth Tuesday of the month, and the following week’s meeting is a day early to avoid a conflict with Election Day Nov. 7.)
Also during its business meeting, the council was introduced to Bruce Stedman, who was recently named as chief of the newly formed regional fire authority, the South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue (formerly Snohomish County Fire District 1). And they also received the first of several department director reports on Mayor Dave Earling’s proposed 2018 budget.
Tuesday night’s budget report was given by Public Works Director Phil Williams, who provided a high-level overview of his budget requests. Among them: $1.5 million to continue street paving projects and three new positions for the engineering department — mostly funded by already-approved utility rate increases or grants and designed to save on consultant costs.
As part of his department accomplishments, Williams mentioned the planned trackside warning system at the Dayton and Main Street railroad crossings, which would significantly reduce train horn noise along the waterfront. That project, which was first proposed in July 2015, got the green light to move forward during the Parks, Planning and Public Works Committee meeting that immediately followed the business meeting Tuesday night.
The project has been dependent on an agreement with the BNSF Railroad, and those negotiations have taken longer than expected. Since the majority of the system will be within BNSF right-of-way, easements also needed to be obtained.
In addition to most of the work completed by the contractor, BNSF will need to install certain items, such as advanced detection at both crossings. The purpose of these agreements is to provide for the installation, ownership, and maintenance of the Wayside Horn System at both crossings to the City of Edmonds. The total project cost is approximately $339,000.
Transportation engineer Bertrand Haus explained that detectors will be installed on the tracks that will activate the wayside horn “and that will replace the train horn.” A signal indicator will tell the train engineer that the wayside horn is functioning correctly, and that there is no need to blow the horn. The system will also tell the engineer if the signal isn’t operating properly, and that a train horn is needed, Haus said.
Phil Williams added that while the wayside horns located at both crossings are at the same decibels as train horns, the sound is very localized to the area nearby. “It’s just designed to alert the people near the tracks, instead of people all the way up to 9th Avenue,” Williams said.
Following the discussion, the committee agreed to place the proposed agreements for both the Dayton and Main Street crossings on the Nov. 6 consent agenda.
The Parks, Planning and Public Works Committee also discussed a a proposed professional services agreement with Parametrix for pre-design and permitting activities on the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector Project, which involves a bridge for pedestrians and emergency vehicles connected to the waterfront. Councilmember Kristiana Johnson made it clear she did not agree with a scope of work element that called for two bridge designs, pushing instead for three designs to be created. Williams said that the current $995,000 budget wouldn’t accommodate a third design and after a long discussion staff agreed to clarify the process and also to find out how much additional funding a third design would cost.
— By Teresa Wippel