Landscaped median, new signal and signage: Council gets peek at plans for improved Highway 99 corridor

At the beginning of Tuesday night’s council meeting, the council honored late civic leader Dick Van Hollebeke with a proclamation for his contributions to Edmonds. in this screen capture, Van Hollebeke’s wife Monda, bottom row – second from left – thanks the council for recognizing him.

The City of Edmonds plans to begin construction next year on an initial set of upgrades to the 2.4-mile stretch of Highway 99 running through the city — the start of a long-term effort to renovate the entire corridor.

The Edmonds City Council heard an update on the project during its Tuesday night meeting. The council also again discussed the elements of the draft tree code, but decided to take another couple of weeks to review it and request further staff changes prior to possible approval.

Making the two miles of Highway 99 through Edmonds a safer place for both pedestrians and drivers has been a key component of the city’s plan, approved in 2017,  to revitalize the roadway — which runs from 244th to 210th Streets Southwest — and nearby neighborhoods. But with federal grant dollars to cover the project’s estimated $184 million price tag hard to come by, the city has decided to focus on installing landscaped medians along the entire centerline to improve both safety and aesthetics, at an estimated cost of $8.15 million. The project would also include a pedestrian-activated HAWK signal at 234th Street Southwest.

Design work is scheduled to be finished this fall, with the goal of starting construction in 2022.

Edmonds had already received a $10 million allocation from the Washington State Legislature for the entire Highway 99 project scope — to be provided during the 2021-23 biennium — although in 2017 the city got a $1 million advance on that money, which was used to begin design work. Revitalization of the entire Highway 99 corridor could take as long as 15 years, with various aspects of the project completed in segments.

Overall, the Edmonds project would be similar to the City of Shoreline’s Aurora Corridor Project, completed in 2017.

City Transportation Engineer Bertrand Haus and Lisa Reid of consultant SCJ Alliance provided an update on plans for roadway improvements aimed at reducing crashes caused by unrestricted left turns and numerous driveways.

“There’s a crash somewhere in the corridor every other day,” Haus said. “It’s actually one of the highest in the state for similar state routes and there’s actually a lot of serious-injury collisions.”

Data collected from 2017-19 and shared with the council Tuesday night showed there were a total of 661 vehicle collisions from 244th Streets to 212th Streets Southwest during that three-year period. A total of 419 involved only property damage, while the remainder included some level of injury. There were two fatalities.

Reid then described the proposed improvements for this project stage: A raised landscaped median along entire corridor “to provide access control,” with mid-block left turn pockets; a pedestrian-activated crosswalk signal just north of 234th Street Southwest; and Gateway “welcome” signs on each end of the city limits.

The 18-inch raised median would include trees and other plantings.
A “before” photo (left) and an “after” rendering (right) of what the new landscaped medians would look like, as seen looking south from Doug’s Lynnwood Mazda in the 22200 block of Highway 99.
The High Intensity Activated CrosswalK (HAWK) signal is proposed for 600 feet north of 234th Street Southwest.

The third element, the Gateway Signs, have not been designed and will be coordinated with a public task force, Reid said.

Reid also provided the council with a summary of left- and U-turn locations planned for the project. Left turns and U-turns will be allowed at all seven signalized intersections — 244th, 238th, 228th, 224th, 220th, 216th and 212th — and at all non-signalized intersections except 76th Avenue West, where there is an existing raised median. Midblock turns will be allowed in areas that meet spacing requirements and other standards.

Studies have shown that access controls such as those planned for Highway 99 reduced the vehicle crash rate about 37% and the injury rate about 48% compared to a two-way left-turn lane, Reid said. Pedstrian-related crashes are lowered 45% and pedestrian fatalities 78%, she added.

In terms of impacts to merchants, “there’s no impact on the demand for goods and services,” Reid said, adding that a majority of drivers have no problem making U-turns to get to businesses on the opposite side of the road.

Transportation Engineer Haus said the city has also been talking with the Washington State Department of Transportation about possibly reducing the speed limit by 5 or 10 mph on the Edmonds portion of Highway 99 after the project is complete. During the council’s discussion on the matter, Councilmember Vivian Olson suggested that the city wait to make that request until the improvements are completed.

“Once the design is done I hope we can sit with it before we make that change and just see how much of an improvement is made and whether or not it’s (the speed reduction is) actually needed to solve a problem,” Olson said. “Because if it isn’t, I think we’d all rather drive more quickly there.”

The project design phase is set to be completed this fall, along with right-of-way acquisition. Construction bids will be sought later this year, with the goal of starting construction in 2022, Haus said.

The city has already held six meetings with area property owners about the project, Haus said, and a virtual open house is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25.  (More information on the time of that meeting and a link to it will be provided when available.)

In terms of the tree code discussion, some councilmembers expressed frustration at how long it was taking for the city to pass what they believe should be a more comprehensive plan than the one the council has been considering. In particular, some on the council want the city to be more aggressive in regulating trees on already developed single-family properties. The current proposal focuses on improving tree retention with new development.

However, Edmonds Development Director Shane Hope noted that her department doesn’t currently have the staff to enforce such regulations on private property, which led to a council discussion about adding money to the city budget so that more staff could be hired.  Some counclmembers also asked that the city conduct a tree canopy assessment, so there is a clear way to measure what the city currently has in the way of trees.

Councilmember Olson made a motion to approve the existing draft code, with the idea of making future amendments to incorporate council concerns, but that motion died on a 2-5 vote (Councilmember Laura Johnson voting with Olson).

Staff agreed to incorporate additional council requests for changes and return with a revised document in a few weeks.

— By Teresa Wippel

 

 

 

8 Replies to “Landscaped median, new signal and signage: Council gets peek at plans for improved Highway 99 corridor”

  1. After reading the police reports for Edmonds and Lynwood for the past year+, it seems like the biggest improvement would be a multi-jurisdiction JAIL (and judge) on the 99 corridor.

    Ignored

    1. Or perhaps allowing our police to do their jobs…perhaps the sheriff, or the state patrol. I hear them racing, screeching, gun shots and or fireworks every night. Time to put a stop to all this nonsense.
      Now! I am getting very angry. Many are.
      The medium sounds pretty. Is 99 where you want your teens or older hanging out? You think this is going to get better out there with a 240 unit apt. Building? Really ha ha. I would see how this new complex does before I beautify the medium.

      Ignored

  2. Here we go folks. More staff needed to enforce more rules and regulations on private property owners about what trees to plant, where to plant them, and how tall they can be. Edmond’s city government motto should be “no good can of worms will be left unopened.”

    We need to toss out this useless, get nothing done and create more problems system of government we have and come up with something that actually works for the good of all of us. Let’s elect our council people out of districts and give them some actual power to get things done and hire the right people for important jobs. Have a ceremonial Mayor and use a City Manager that actually knows how to and wants to manage the everyday operations of a city. (Say, someone like Phil Williams who seems to keep things going here from the practical angle). Elect a city attorney who answers to the citizens, not the Mayor or Council People who are “in” with the Mayor. This would cost some money, but be well worth it in less wasted funds on national searches, endless studies of non problems and never ending citizen’s advisory groups that are pretty much just window dressing for whatever the current Mayor and Staff want to happen.

    Ignored

  3. Having witnessed the Shoreline project, I wonder how many Edmonds’ businesses will disappear during the project. The overall objectives sound fine but the effects on the neighborhoods might be worse than the benefits of the project.

    Ignored

    1. What is the overall perspective anyway. All I see is trying to fool people into thinking you are caring and cool…no…its not fooling anyone except those who are entitled, glad and busy having their Edmonds kind of day. They think that since they care as long as it doesn’t effect them…the bowl, the very wealthy that just doing anything will satisfy ALL the rest. Fact is my neighbors: You are having the exact opposite effect on how others see you. This story has a sad ending.

      Ignored

  4. I have to applaud the City of Edmonds for their efforts to improve the city’s section of the 99 corridor. Having lived long enough to watch the old highway grow since the 1930s, I know it won’t be easy. It has needed some tender loving care for a long time. Let’s not knock those who try.

    Ignored

  5. An earlier iteration of the Edmonds Hwy 99 Task Force, basically came up with similar findings and recommendations. That is about 6-7 years ago, and we concluded that very similar decisions for the use of, and the location for such improvements. I look forward to the turning of the first shovel full of dirt on this long-delayed project on the East side of town.

    Ignored

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identify before approving your comment.