Questions and answers about sidewalks in Edmonds

City crews are out building sidewalks around Edmonds, which prompted many folks to ask how the city decides where sidewalks should go.

The City of Edmonds addresses that topic in its latest City Bulletin, and we’ve republished it with permission:

How many of you want a sidewalk in front of your house? Ok, all 10,000 + of you can put your hands down now. You can see why this is difficult. We can’t give everyone the sidewalk they want or need. We must make choices and we have to do it fairly.

Walkable Space

Edmonds covers a lot of walkable space. In that space are pathways to schools, grocery stores, community gathering areas like churches or parks, transit stops, business areas, commute corridors, and popular outdoor spaces. We can agree these high-profile areas should take priority.

We can also agree that a place where a pedestrian has been hit should take priority.

All this information goes into an Edmonds City Council-approved Transportation Plan. The last Transportation Plan was completed in 2015.

This plan is updated every six to seven years and city council/city staff work from this plan.

If this seems really bureaucratic, you’re right. It is. But we have to be fair, equitable, and thorough and we have to be able to prove it when someone says we aren’t. This is referred to as transparency. On the issue of sidewalks, wouldn’t you want to know we did right by you and the person who lives on the other side of town? We think so, too.

Back to the sidewalks… the Walkway Plan is a section within the Transportation Plan that prioritizes walkway projects throughout the City.

What gets built (AKA The Long List)

If the City built all the sidewalks called for in the 2015 Transportation Plan, it would cost upwards of $40 million which is a little out of the current price range. But we can organize and prioritize. During the completion of the plan, each proposed sidewalk projects were ranked based on the following criteria: pedestrian safety, connectivity to services and various facilities, pedestrian activity, distance from schools, connectivity to transit routes, and environmental impacts. Then there’s more organization and prioritizing.

Some ways to slice this list: identify short segments versus long segments (1000 ft+) and the cost associated with each. Sidewalks near projects under construction like a new building or a new sewer replacement system that are already tearing up the street also get on the list. So now we have it really, really organized, prioritized or at least sorted into do-able categories.

Hunting for money

Now we hunt for money. Government and grant money are interesting things. If a grant says, “This money will only be used for projects that are within ½ mile of a school” then that is exactly what the project has to be. There is no wiggle room. It gets back to that transparency thing again.

Many sidewalks grants are funded through federal and state grants (such as Safe Routes to School Program, Pedestrian and Bicycle Program, and Transportation Improvement Board/TIB). Bottom line on everything? Improving pedestrian safety and completing key missing sidewalk links for school kids as well as general public are the priority. So after we identify where the sidewalk is, how long it is and how much it will cost, take a look at all the grants we can apply for, we have a list and we work that list. When we have extra city money, we put it toward chipping away at this list.

What’s happening now (AKA The Current List)

From the short list in the latest Walkway Plan, the following projects have been completed or are close to being completed (within the next month or so):

  • Dayton Street from 7th Avenue South to 8th Avenue South (south side of the street/as part of Dayton Street Utility Replacement project)

  • Walnut Street from 3rd Avenue South to 4th Avenue South (south side of the street/being completed by our Public Works concrete crew)

Since 2015, grant applications from the Walkway list have been submitted but no funding has yet been secured. Grant applications were again submitted in April 2020 for the following stretches (responses from granting agency scheduled for July 2021 whether grant secured or not):

  • Elm Way from 8th Avenue South to 9th Avenue South (included in Short Walkway list);

  • Maplewood Dr. from Main Street to 200th Street Southwest (included in Long Walkway list);

  • 80th Avenue West from 220th Street Southwest to 216th Street Southwest (included in Long Walkway list); and

  • 236th Street Southwest from Highway 99 to 76th Avenue West (included in Long Walkway list).

With the recent addition of the Public Works Concrete crews, other short missing links will be completed in the future.

Crosswalks

Several residents have contacted us not so much about sidewalks, but crosswalks. We install crosswalks if pedestrians ask for it and it would genuinely make the area safer. That means, for example, if there are very few pedestrians in the area to begin with and we put in a crosswalk, no driver will take it seriously and may not stop. So a crosswalk here would not make the area any safer for pedestrians.

Generally, what we look for is whether five pedestrians cross at this location in a given hour. If yes, then we will consider a crosswalk.

If residents believe a crosswalk should be installed at a specific location, contact Bertrand Hauss (Transportation Engineer) at 425-771-0220 (extension 1328) or bertrand.hauss@edmondswa.gov

  1. I am writing to request crosswalks along Bowdoin Way starting at 88th down to Yost Park. There is nowhere to cross through there and many people won’t walk all the way to Yost or up to 5 corners to cross legally. That’s a long stretch with no crosswalks! Many people navigate the area, especially with children via strollers, bikes etc. I am one of those mothers with baby in stroller along with a toddler on a bike trying to navigate across the street to walk in the spacious roads in neighborhoods and socially distance while avoiding sidewalks and passing close to people who might have Covid. Cars also speed past the bend around 88th and don’t see people crossing. Or cars see people trying to cross and will stop in the middle of the road to let them go while other cars come behind sometimes not paying attention and could rear end other vehicles allowing people to cross If you provide a designated space to cross, people and cars will know what to expect. Additionally the south side of Bowdoin sidewalks need ADA ramps. Its unacceptable not to allow accessibility for all in such a busy residential area that is a straightshot to downtown. With one side of the road inaccessible, you are forcing people to cross the street and encounter problems above. The need for crosswalks and accessible sidewalks is especially important with bike lanes coming along this route. But crosswalks alone need to happen ASAP for the safety of residents, especially children. And it barely costs a thing.

    I appreciate your feedback. Thank you

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