City Corner | There’s always something going on in Edmonds

By Shane Hope and Phil Williams | Oct 15, 2016

City work is never done.

This year, the pace for the Development Services Department and the Public Works Department has ramped up even more.

First, there's the permitting for development within Edmonds. Some of the development is small scale, such as minor home improvements; some of it is much larger, such as new commercial buildings. While the "great recession" years were lean for projects, development has increased significantly ever since.

For example, 2014 was a very strong year for the value of projects being built in the city. In the January-August period of 2014, building permits had been issued for projects that totaled $27,055,074 in value.

During the same period of 2015, building permits were issued for projects that totaled $30,111,535. And then for the same period of 2016, projects that received building permits totaled $46,776,085 in value. Similarly, the requests for land use/planning approvals and engineering permits have spiked up.

That also meant that building and engineering staff followed up with more than 7,000 inspections during the same time period. The city's workload has grown, but it is a sign that people want to continue improving their properties and see Edmonds as a great community in which to be.

Currently, major development projects include a new mixed-use building to replace the vacant post office structure and a new multifamily building in the Point Edwards neighborhood.

The Development Services Department is working on other tasks, too.

For example, it is leading the process to draft a vision plan for the Highway 99 area the City Council will consider. The draft plan will be showcased at an open house 6-8 p.m. Nov. 10 on the fourth floor of Swedish Edmonds.

The plan will propose ways to encourage more housing and businesses within the Highway 99 area and to improve the transportation corridor, with special attention to pedestrians.

Meanwhile, the Public Works department has been busy finishing up our summer maintenance work and getting ready for wet winter weather.

During nice weather, we replace water meters, paint and maintain fire hydrants, clean and paint sewer lift stations, dig up and expose sewer line clean-outs, replace manholes, refresh lane markings (center lines and fog lines), maintain traffic signals and torch down new crosswalks, stop bars and directional arrows.

We also seal cracks in our asphalt streets to prolong their life, control weeds and other vegetation in city rights-of-way to improve appearances, enhance accessibility, and improve sight lines for cars and pedestrians, eliminate sidewalk trip hazards by replacing or grinding panels, or by placing a transitional asphalt wedge, fix potholes and patch concrete as necessary on our streets and sidewalks, and many other labor and equipment intensive jobs that are better done in nice weather.

In a future column we will outline the tasks we focus during the winter.

In addition to the operational and maintenance work being performed by our Public Works maintenance crews over the summer, we are finishing our 2016 capital projects list, which has also kept us very busy.

We have replaced 4,825 feet of old water mains, along with 121 new service lines to our customers’ meters. We replaced or relined over a half-mile of old sewer lines, and placed new drainage facilities on 105th and 106th avenues SW just north of Sherwood Elementary School.

We completed a new sidewalk over 1,300 feet long on 238th Street SW to make it safer for schoolchildren to walk to school.

We are just about to begin a new sidewalk project on 236th Street SW that will extend from State Route 104 up the hill to Madrona Elementary School. The timing on this 1,000-foot sidewalk project will be tricky. It will not be finished until we are well into the peak winter weather season.

The project involves excavation, concrete finishing and paving work along the entire length of 236th. We don't have a wide right of way on 236th to work with, and we need to be able to get cars into and out of Madrona every weekday.

If we have more than the usual amount of wet weather from now through Christmas, it will be a challenging project. The alternative would be to wait until spring to begin, but that is when Edmonds School District will begin a $49 million dollar project to replace Madrona K-8.

At that point, we would be trying to move heavy equipment and construction deliveries into the same location, and it is mostly a one-way-in-and-out road.

Stay tuned, and wish us luck on the weather!

Shane Hope is director of development services. Phil Williams is public works director.

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