Managing access along Highway 99 will reduce vehicle crashes, consultant says

Members of the Edmonds City Council Parks, Planning and Public Works Committee got a sneak peak at some of the planning work completed for the Highway 99 project through Edmonds. The bottom line: Roadway improvements can reduce the number of car crashes caused by unrestricted left turns and numerous driveways.

“The continuous left-turn lanes create accidents, especially when you have to turn across three lanes of oncoming traffic,” said Lisa Reid of consultant SCJ Alliance. “Then you also have buses running down the curb lane and people coming out of driveways at the same time.”

The Highway 99 Gateway Revitalization Project covers the two-mile stretch from the King-Snohomish County border at 244th Street Southwest, to the Edmonds-Lynnwood border at 212th Street Southwest. The goal is to eventually extend the City of Shoreline’s Aurora Corridor project through Edmonds, although city officials say the project will be completed in phases as state and federal grant money becomes available for what is estimated to be a $100 million project

The City Council in September 2017 selected SCJ Alliance to take the first step — developing a corridor plan with project costs, environmental documentation, and right-of-way requirements — funded with $1 million from the state Legislature.

On Tuesday night, Reid of SCJ Alliance gave the council committee the highlights of a more detailed presentation that the full council will receive in two weeks. While the overall project is envisioned to include wider sidewalks, the undergrounding of overhead utility lines and landscaping improvements, the main focus of Tuesday night’s discussion was the number of vehicle crashes that occur on certain portions of the Highway 99 stretch through Edmonds — and how roadway improvements could help.

Data shows that for a three-year period — from 2014-17 — there were a total of 747 vehicle collisions on the Edmonds stretch of Highway 99. A total of 436 involved only property damage with the remainder involving some level of injury (two were listed as unknown) and 25 including a pedestrian or bicyclist. There were no fatalities during those three years.

Of those 747 total crashes, 442 occurred between controlled intersections. The largest number of crashes — 132 — took place between 224th Street Southwest and 220th Street Southwest. The second-highest number — 120 — occurred between 238th and 228th Streets Southwest.

 

 

“It’s not just the number of crashes along corridor,” said Reid, pointing to the “clumps” of red (indicating injury crashes) and green (indicating non-injury collisions) along the roadway map. “It’s the number that are caused by the two-way left turn lane and the unrestricted lefts.”

Access management in the form of median control with protected left and U-turns, plus relocating driveways away from intersections or reducing the overall number of driveways “where we can” will make the corridor safer, Reid said.

“Really, if we can control the access to driveways and left turns, then we’ll reduce the number of accidents — and reduce not only the number but the severity,” she added.

Public Works Director Phil Williams noted, however, that an important next step will be to find a compromise between controlling access along the highway and accommodating Highway 99 businesses that want as much access as possible for their customers. “That’s where that balance and the discussion with stakeholders comes in,” Williams said.

The city and SJC Alliance will be meeting with local business owners to talk about their access needs and concerns, Reid added. In addition, the city will need to coordinate its work with adjacent jurisdictions located along the highway, including Snohomish County, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood.

After the Highway 99 plan goes before the full council Feb. 6, it will be presented during a Feb. 21 public open house.

Also during the Parks, Planning and Public Works Committee, the council recommended three other items be forwarded to the consent agenda for the council’s Feb. 6 meeting:

– A supplemental agreement of $45,099 with Tetra Tech to refine alternatives for the sewer lift station located north of the Edmonds ferry terminal

– A 10-foot street dedication adjacent to a housing development at 720 13th Way Southwest.

– An interlocai agreement with the City of Mukilteo for a pilot program that will test the effectiveness of slurry seal on three city streets. By teaming up and issuing one large contract rather than two smaller contracts, the two cities can take advantage of economy of scale to get better prices for their slurry seal programs.

During the business meeting that preceded the committee meetings, the council:

– Appointed Brian Potter to the Edmonds Diversity Commission.

– Heard the City Prosecutor’s Annual Report.

– Appointed Suzanne Juergesen as an alternate to the Edmonds Tree Board.

– Approved a resolution to set a public hearing for a street vacation requested for a portion of unopened right-of-way lying directly south of 10430 231st Street Southwest West.

– Approved ratification of the WRIA 8 (Water Resource Inventory Area 8) Chinook Salmon Conservation Plan.

– Finalized the scope and calendar for the Edmonds Marsh Study.

There will be no council meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 30.

— By Teresa Wippel

 

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