By Mina Williams For The Herald
EDMONDS — The City Council took another step this week toward putting in a roundabout at the intersection known as Five Corners.
In a 5-2 vote on Tuesday night, the council agreed to move ahead with the project located at the five-way stop between Highway 99 and downtown Edmonds. Main Street, 212th Street SW, Bowdoin Way and 84th Avenue W. converge at the location. Council members Michael Plunkett and Lora Petso cast dissenting votes.
City staff had made the recommendation for the roundabout as part of the city’s long-range plans. This would be the city’s first true roundabout; the traffic circle on Main Street in downtown Edmonds is regulated by stop signs.
Design and construction for the entire project is about $2.5 million.
In addition to easing congestion, city Public Works Director Phil Williams cited other benefits in installing the roundabout. Safety, reducing air pollution and enhancing neighborhood development for this gateway to Edmonds were among them. He said that over the past three years there have been eight accidents at Five Corners, four of which were serious.
Edmonds residents and business people packed the council’s gallery earlier this week. Close to two dozen people publicly commented on the proposed project. Many more residents and business owners submitted comments in writing to council members.
Lila McDonald, who has lived three blocks from Five Corners for 55 years, opposed the roundabout, questioning its need.
“I have never seen an accident or a near-accident,” she said.
“People are quite respectful. Traffic is as smooth as can be.”
Others applauded the project as an environmental boon.
“This is a chance for Edmonds to be a smart growth leader in Snohomish County,” said Laura Spehar, an environmental advocate from Perrinville. “Using stop signs and signals guarantees emissions and heavy metal particulates from car brakes that are left on the street to wash into Puget Sound.”
Funding for the project was questioned by several residents.
So far the city has received $463,000 in federal grant money for the design phase of the roundabout. The city has contributed $73,000.
City officials are confident that grants will be available to Edmonds for more than 85 percent of the project’s construction costs, slated to break ground in 2013.
The balance would come from fees, collected from developers of projects within the city that contribute to traffic loads.
During the same meeting another traffic initiative, a stoplight addition at Ninth Avenue N. and N. Caspers Street, was also supported, with a 5-2 vote. Plunkett and Councilman Steve Bernheim voted no on that agenda item.
Williams pointed out that taking that project out of the city’s plans would require recalculation of traffic impact fees levied on developers. Additionally, there is no immediate initiative aimed at moving immediately forward with adding the light.