Waterfront, Highway 99 projects get OK from Olympia

Inslee expected to sign, Mayor Earling says
Apr 27, 2017
Courtesy of: City of Edmonds

Early positive signs for Edmonds from the State Capitol became reality after the House and Senate voted last Thursday and Friday, respectively, to approve a transportation budget that includes funding for the next steps on two important projects: the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector and Highway 99 corridor enhancements.

The transportation budget is now on the Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk, awaiting his signature. Mayor Dave Earling said he expects the governor to sign it.

“I am delighted to see that our hard work and preparation have led legislators in both the Senate and House to support these important transportation projects in Edmonds,” Earling said. “The legislators understood what we’ve been saying all along: These projects address real safety, congestion and access issues that are important not only to Edmonds but to the entire region.”

The approved transportation budget includes $700,000 for continued design development, environmental review and documentation, and permitting work for the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector. It will provide an emergency, single-lane structure over the railroad tracks as an alternative to the at-grade rail crossings at Main and Dayton streets.

This approximately $29 million project will provide access for emergency vehicles, as well as ferry off-loading or on-loading, with the assistance of traffic control officers when train break-downs block the two crossings.

The structure also will provide 24/7, ADA-compliant access to the city’s waterfront attractions for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other nonmotorized traffic.

Earling said these next steps will be vitally important in positioning the project to receive federal grant funding for detailed design and construction.

Meanwhile, the transportation budget also gave the city earlier access to necessary funding for Highway 99 improvements, as $1 million was moved up into the 2017-19 biennium from the $10 million appropriation approved in the 2015 session for the 2021-23 biennium.

In June, the City Council is expected to give its final approval to the Highway 99 Corridor Subarea Plan, together with associated code changes and related provisions, which includes a vision for safety, circulation, pedestrian and aesthetic enhancements within the right-of-way throughout the highway’s two-mile stretch through Edmonds.

“This is wonderful news that will have a real impact on our community,” said Development Services Director Shane Hope. “The Legislature’s decision to free up this $1 million in funding allows us to move forward with critical components of the Highway 99 corridor improvement project, including necessary design work, while also providing powerful leverage to help us secure matching grant funds for this project.”

The $1 million up-front funding will enable the city to complete a more detailed plan for the transportation improvements needed in the Highway 99 corridor to achieve the vision expressed in the subarea plan.

This would include a list of the individual projects that will be needed, what should be prioritized, how those projects should be phased in over several years, and an overall cost estimate for the programmed improvements. Also, the funding should allow the city to design a high-priority project on that list so funding can be assembled for its construction.

“My heartfelt thanks go out to all our Edmonds-area legislators for their support, particularly Senator Marko Liias and Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self, who serve on the Senate and House Transportation Committees,” Earling said.


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