Ribbon cutting celebrates completion of first phase of Highway 99 revitalization project

The ribbon is cut: Mayor Mike Nelson is joined by representatives of the various project teams and city councilmembers as he wields the ceremonial scissors.

An exuberant Mayor Mike Nelson officiated at a Thursday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of the $9.3 million phase one of the ongoing Highway 99 revitalization project.  The event was held adjacent to the new south gateway sign, which welcomes motorists and others as they enter Edmonds.

“This is a really important ribbon cutting,” he began.  “It’s long been a dream of mine to get the Highway 99 revitalization project up and running.  It’s been an all-hands-on-deck project, and I’m really excited to be here today.”

Nelson went on to explain that this phase is just the beginning, with $44 million earmarked for the full project, comprising 4 phases in total.

Mayor Nelson stressed that with this project, the city is making good on its commitment to pay more attention to the two-mile stretch of Highway 99 that passes through Edmonds.

“The new landscaped safety median alone will reduce vehicle crashes by 37%, pedestrian accidents by 45% and improve traffic flow,” he continued. “And talk about beautification – more than 130 trees and 11,000 plants have been added, and two new gateway signs erected [at the north and south ends of the two-mile stretch of Highway 99 that passes through Edmonds] to welcome folks to our city.  With the completion of phase one, I confidently say that things are buzzing, moving and shaking up here on Highway 99.”

Nelson was followed by Assistant Public Works Director Rob English, who gave a quick overview of the project and what’s coming in future phases.

Assistant Public Works Director Rob English thanked the many people and organizations contributing to the project.

“We’re celebrating the first stage of construction today,” he began.  “The new median and other street improvements will be followed by additional work beyond the curb in the stretch between 244th and 238th Streets, including additional landscaping, bicycle improvements, sidewalks, and widening the 238th Street intersection. Subsequent phases will extend these down to 220th Street.”

Returning to the podium, Mayor Nelson stressed that for him, the driving force behind this project stems from the city historically not providing enough attention to this part of town. He pointed out that for years, improving Highway 99 has been a subject of discussion, but now – with council support – things are actually happening.

The new Welcome to Edmonds sign greets visitors approaching from the south on Highway 99.

“We’re not just talking; we’re delivering – and with completion of phase one, people can now actually see the changes,” he concluded.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. Nice to see the progress!

    We hope this will include an update to the turn signal (or a flashing yellow light) at 238th & 99 for the east/west direction. This is an extremely busy intersection with near collisions btw. pedestrain’s & cars “Daily”. Drivers coming from the West making a left to North to 99 continue to run the intersection (because it’s a long light), whether someone is in the crosswalk or cars are traveling East to West. I’ve called the city this past yr. and they haven’t reviewed the increased traffic for E/W or asked the police for their input on increased incidents.
    We’d appreciate another review for added safety. Thanks for your support!

    1. Trisha, you point out the major hazard to pedestrians at this intersection. 238th is one of two intersections on 99 without what engineers call protected left turns. Crossing traffic gets a green light to turn left at the same time pedestrians have a WALK light to cross the highway! The safety conflict is built into the signal design and must be fixed. I will raise this matter again when the City’s new Transportation Plan Committee begins meeting.

  2. The city really needs to invest in sensors at these intersections so that when there is a line of 10-12 cars coming out of the neighborhoods, they don’t have to sit there for nearly 10min waiting for the signal to change. Especially when there is little traffic on Hwy99.

  3. Are they going to fix the pot holes along Northbound Hwy 99 between 205th and 238th? These have developed since the construction started?

  4. How about some follow-up to the ribbon cutting please? I’m talking about giving us facts about the remaining phases. I called the public works department to ask when the undergrounding of the visually polluting overhead wires would proceed, and the answer was very vague. He didn’t know if there would be funds for that, but he was informative in stating that the PUD’s high wires can never be buried. Ok…they’re the least polluting because the PUD tall poles are mostly uncluttered, widely spaced and connect with gracefully swooping wires. But not bury the mishmash of the lower wires and poles? How could that be when the cities around Edmonds have accomplished placing wires underground along Hwy 99 and 196th? I left the call wondering if the future phases are very detailed at this point. I don’t understand why the wire undergrounding wasn’t the first step even before the lovely planted medians which now may complicate any wire burial…in my amateur opinion.

    1. There is some discussion of that issue in our October 2022 story regarding council approval of Highway 99 contracts:
      That story states:

      “The city is now working on stage 2, which includes construction of a landscaped center median and dedicated left-turn lanes from 244th to 210th Streets Southwest, with completion expected by early next year. Stage 3 will involve the segment from 244th to 238th Streets Southwest and stage 4 will focus on 224th to 220th Streets Southwest. Both stages will include capacity improvements, as well as the addition of planter strip on both sides of the street, new sidewalk, new street/pedestrian lighting, better stormwater management, targeted utility replacements (water/sewer), potential undergrounding of overhead utilities (could cost up to $11 million), and softscape treatments.

      “For both contracts, the council agreed to an amendment that directs staff to keep them informed of costs for undergrounding of utilities, so a decision can be made whether to pursue that option.

      I don’t recall the council revisiting this issue yet but I may have forgotten.

  5. Thank you MEN for reprinting 10/2022 article. I hope the city comes up with a definitive answer for us.

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