Edmonds eyes new waterfront path

EDMONDS — City planners are floating an idea to improve viewing pleasure on Sunset Avenue, north of the ferry dock.

The $1.9 million plan would install a walkway on the west side of the road, atop the bluff above the railroad tracks. The pedestrian and bike route would run for nearly a half-mile, from Bell Street north to where Caspers Street connects to Third Avenue N.

“A lot of people walk there today, but it’s just not done in a safe way,” Edmonds public works director Phil Williams said.

Instead, joggers, dog-walkers and stroller-pushers have beaten a muddy path on the west side of Sunset. In their quest to enjoy the saltwater breeze, they’re often in the middle of the street.

There is a sidewalk that runs in front of the homes on the east side of Sunset.

“But that’s not where many people will want to walk,” Williams said. “I can’t imagine they would do that on the east side if they could do it on the west side.”

The proposed 12-foot-wide pathway would be designed to accommodate people with disabilities.

The city landed a $159,000 federal grant to plan the project.

If things move quickly, staff could finish design work and permitting in 2014, Williams said. Then, the city could apply for grants to pay for construction.

The walkway concept has enjoyed an enthusiastic reception from some folks in town. It’s also drawing opposition, particularly from homeowners on Sunset worried about any plans that might interfere with their Puget Sound and Olympia Mountain vistas. “They have this glorious view — we wouldn’t do anything to obstruct that,” Williams said. “I’ve been very clear in this project that we’re not proposing to put in any fence or plant trees or put in any tall, unshielded lights, or anything that would change the way things look out there from the front windows.”

Another concern is parking spaces. Under the initial plan, the number would shrink from 55 now to 43.

“The ones that are the most popular are the angled parking, where you can pull in and watch the water,” Williams said. “We’re actually going to expand some of that.”

The city hosted a workshop Dec. 18 at the Edmonds Public Library. An estimated 60 people attended.

Williams expects the City Council to discuss the walkway in early 2014.

For more information, contact Ed Sibrel at 425-771-0220 or ed.sibrel@edmondswa.gov.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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