From the Public Works Director: Upgrading Edmonds’ aging infrastructure

Phil Williams
Phil Williams

During the year 2016, the City of Edmonds has been doing more to upgrade, replace and improve key public infrastructure than ever before. The city has, with the support of our taxpayers and ratepayers, been making a serious dent in the problem of “aging infrastructure.”

This is a growing issue and one you have probably heard about in several recent articles and news stories in the national media. All levels of government have, with few exceptions, chronically underfunded basic infrastructure for many years. This includes roads, bridges and sidewalks, water, sewer, and drainage pipes and pumping plants, water and wastewater treatment facilities, city buildings, traffic signals, street light networks and other basic systems we typically take for granted in our daily lives.

It is easy to be lulled to sleep on the issue of aging infrastructure since these systems are normally very reliable and long lasting. We assume they will always function when needed. In the annual budget cycle, we tend to prioritize projects and programs that are either more interesting to the public, are responding to new issues or events, or that in general just seem more important than replacing water and sewer lines or paving streets. It is completely understandable. We always have more things we want to do than money to do them. That is true for individual families as well as city governments.

That said, I am very proud of our city for the work we are doing to address this issue locally. Mayor Earling and the Edmonds City Council have stepped up in a big way over the last three years to provide additional funding to address the problem. It will be a long process but we are off to a great start.

As you have traveled around Edmonds this spring and summer you have no doubt run into many different construction sites where this work is taking place. You have had to wait at times and then be flagged through these sites or been detoured around them. We apologize for that inconvenience but hope you now understand just how important this work is to Edmonds’ future. Here are some of the projects being done in 2016:

– We completed and placed into operation earlier this summer the biggest transportation project done in Edmonds in years, maybe ever. Located at 228th and SR99, it dramatically improves safety at three high accident intersections, improves access to the transit center in Mountlake Terrace, and provides a new east/west connector to better connect Edmonds citizens living east of SR99. Total project cost was $7.8 million. State and federal grants were received for this project totaling $6.9 million.

* We are in the third year of a re-started street preservation program. This year we will pave approximately 10.2 lane miles of city streets at a cost of $1.62 million. About 85 percent of the funds for this work will come from Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). The rest comes from city utility rates where pipe replacement projects resulted in a need for new pavement. Some of the notable locations done this year were on Talbot Road, Walnut Street (east of 9th), 104th near Hickman Park, Dellwood Drive, and 238th (100th to 104th), among many others.

– New water lines totaling 4,825 feet have been installed this year. These have replaced old, corroded and brittle cast iron pipe with new ductile iron water mains. When the water main gets replaced in front of your house, we also replace the service line and water meter at the same time. We did 121 of those this year. Total cost for this work will be $1.15 million and is paid using the water rates our citizens and businesses pay each month.

– Sewer and stormwater mains are handled in one of two ways. They are either excavated and replaced or re-lined, depending site conditions. We are renewing 2,750 feet of these mains in 2016 at a cost of $1.54 million.

–  Two new sidewalk projects are being constructed in 2016. The first was done on 238th (from 104th to 100th). The street paving was also restored on this street and rain gardens were installed to collect and treat stormwater. The other sidewalk will be on 236th (SR104 to Madrona School). These two walkway projects received Safe Routes to School grants totaling $1.14 million out of a total project cost of $2.44 million.

These are just some of the many projects the city is tackling in 2016. Others include the new City Park spray pad ($785,000), and the renovation of the fishing pier ($1.4 million). We have been very busy! And none of this includes all the private development taking place in Edmonds, which is setting records as well for the third straight year.

Thanks again for your patience!

— By Phil Williams
City of Edmonds Public Works Director

  1. Replacement of the ancient sidewalks in our downtown area needs to get on this list. They are bad enough for normal walkers, and much worse for those using wheelchairs or walkers. Street pavement eventually gets replaced, but ancient sidewalks are only replaced when there’s adjacent construction.

  2. Amen to that, Ron. I am waiting for someone to take a fall on one of the terrible sidewalks and sue the city. It seems it is an accident waiting to happen.

      1. So spell out who those “abutting” people/companies are so we know to whom we should complain.
        Businesses? Condos? Houses?

      2. And it is the responsibility of the city to make certain that property owners do what they are responsible for.

  3. I’m happy that the city is being proactive in repairing roadways and other infrastructure. I’ve been walking a lot on Queen Anne lately and their sidewalks are all split, broken and otherwise uneven, so the problem is not limited to Edmonds (although I have not seen uneven sidewalks myself in Edmonds).

    1. You obviously have not done much walking in our downtown. And we should be benchmarking our city against the best, not the worst.

  4. A physical therapist recommended that the best place to walk in Edmonds is the path at Hickman Park which is easily available to those with disabilities. It has good access and parking for handicapped.
    For those with vision problems or who are at risk for falling, downtown is not recommended.

  5. That is nice to know about Hickman Park, but what about the people who cannot get there from downtown and must walk on downtown sidewalks? Even if one is not handicapped, it is a challenge.

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