Construction bids are scheduled to be opened April 21 for a much-anticipated project aimed at revitalizing the two-and-one-quarter-mile stretch of Highway 99 that runs through the city of Edmonds. If all goes well — and nothing is guaranteed with ongoing labor shortages and a backlog of concrete orders due to a long drivers’ strike — the effort would be completed in 150 working days, or just over six months, said Acting Public Works Director Rob English.
Providing a project update to the Edmonds City Council’s Parks and Public Works Committee Tuesday night, English admitted he is “a little concerned about the price volatity right now, what kind of bids we get, how many bids we get,” and whether the project bid will fall within the engineer’s bid estimate of $5.23 million.
“We’re hopeful that the bids will come in around $5.2 million,” English said. “We’ll just see what happens on the 21st.” Assuming a successful bidding process, the contract would come to the full city council for approval on May 3.
“We really want to get this project up and started to maximize the summer construction season,” he added.
This stage of the project — formally known as the Highway 99 Gateway Revitalization — is being funded by the state’s Connecting Washington transportation funds, with $270,000 in city real estate excise tax (REET) available if needed, English said.
The scope of improvements include the installation of a raised landscaped median with mid-block left-turn pockets — replacing the center left-turn lane — plus gateway signs at the north and south ends of the city limits. There will also be a pedestrian-activated HAWK signal 600 feet north of 234th Street Southwest — similar to the one now installed on Highway 104 near City Park — aimed at making highway pedestrian crossings safer.
A vertical north gateway sign will be located north of 212th Street Southwest — within a center median island — while the south horizontal sign will be placed north of 244th Street Southwest, in front of the Campell Nelson car dealership.
The city plans to plant 130 trees in the center median landscape, with tree types that include hornbean, magnolia, parrotia, maidenhair and zelkova. The selection of trees, as well as other landscaping decisions including irrigation design, were made in conjunction with the city’s parks department staff, which will be responsible for maintaining the plants after the project is completed.
“It’s a brutal environment for plants,” Edmonds Parks Department Director Angie Feser said of maintaining the landscaping along a busy roadway that generates both traffic and heat. The plants chosen for the project, she said, are “drought tolerant and extremely hardy” with the idea of minimizing irrigation required. There is also a safety factor for parks employees, as a lane of traffic must be closed to perform any landscaping work, she added.
Making the stretch of Highway 99 through Edmonds a safer place for both pedestrians and drivers — as well as revitalizing nearby neighborhoods — has been a key component of the city’s Highway 99 Subarea Plan, approved in 2017. But with federal grant dollars to cover the project’s estimated $184 million price tag hard to come by, the city decided to focus on installing landscaped medians along the entire centerline to improve both safety and aesthetics. In 2017 and 2018, the city worked with SCJ consultants to complete the Highway 99 Gateway – Revitalization Stage 1 planning project, which produced conceptual plans and construction cost estimates. Now it’s time for Stage 2 construction.
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.
In a related matter, the Parks and Public Works Committee heard a request from staff to approve a supplemental agreement of approximately $90,000 with SCJ to provide professional services during the construction phase. Committee members Johnson and Tibbott recommended placing this agreement on the full council’s consent agenda for approval.
Another discussion of note, toward the end of the committee meeting, was a new agenda item regarding the process for adding street lights to Edmonds neighborhoods that need them. One low-cost way to accomplish that, English said, is to add lights on existing PUD power poles, which the utility would do at no cost — and the city would then be responsible for ongoing maintenance. The committee agreed that portions of the Lake Ballinger neighborhood would be a good place to start that effort, and English agreed to come back with more information on next steps at a later meeting.
— By Teresa Wippel