Patience and projects in Edmonds | Mayor's Corner

By Dave Earling | Aug 17, 2018

The second year I was mayor, I vividly remember making the first of many trips to Olympia during the Legislative session to meet with our local legislators on important issues related to our city.

One of the conversations I had over lunch was with our 21st District Senator, Marko Liias. It may not be foremost in your memory, but at that time the House and Senate were crafting a transportation plan to make major transportation improvements to the State of Washington's needed projects across the state.

We discussed a few potential projects we could consider undertaking, but finally concluded major improvements were needed on our 2-mile stretch of Highway 99 and should be included in the evolving transportation package.

As you know, Shoreline was in the final years of their Highway 99 improvements, and what a dramatic change that city accomplished!

Sen. Liias championed our request for funding to begin the project with the active support of the rest of our local legislators. The result was the award of $10 million for our project as part of the 16-year transportation improvement plan approved by the Legislature.

Of course, all of the state projects had to be programmed over the 16 years to coincide with expected cash flow. Our $10 million project was/is scheduled for funding in 2021-2023.

So, just a reminder – we need to better serve this community on our 2-mile stretch of Highway 99. Our desire is to enhance vehicular, transit, bicycle and pedestrian mobility and safety, as well as to improve the area to become a fully functioning neighborhood.

Remember the 3-mile stretch in Shoreline? While we will not exactly look like Shoreline, we need to make dramatic improvements, as they did.

In 2016, we included in our city budget $100,000 to initiate a subarea plan to improve Highway 99. The process was a success, resulting in a new land use plan and concept plan for new transportation improvements.

And when I say "success," I'm not exaggerating. Just this month, our Highway 99 plan was recognized by the Puget Sound Regional Council with its 2018 VISION 2040 Award as an "innovative project" that will help ensure a sustainable future as our region grows.

Knowing 2021 was a long way off, we went back to the Legislature to request that $1 million be pulled forward from the $10 million award, and we were successful! This year with that money we are able to fully develop a detailed plan and get well into the initial design and prioritization of improvements in the corridor.

Our work is already attracting interest from the business and development community. In the planning stages, there are already plans for a new 187-unit apartment complex to meet our growing housing needs, as well as an additional automobile dealership.

Longer term, we want to have additional retail, business and affordable housing, along with gathering places, as well as dramatic safety improvements.

We still have a few years before we can access our full appropriation – 2021. However we will be back in contact with our legislators next session, requesting that an additional portion of the original $10 million be brought forward to help us continue our work and enable us to actually begin improvements in this important part of our community.

Ultimately this multiphase project will cost millions of additional dollars to complete. But, for the first time in decades, we will quit just talking about the importance of the Highway 99 corridor to our community and start to realize the fuller potential of this vital part of our city.

That being said, we will have to be patient and diligent.

Because, yes, projects of this magnitude require patience, time and dollars.



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