Everett seeks a better way for Evergreen Way

EVERETT — On Evergreen Way you can shop for a truck, get taxes prepared and eat tacos.

And that’s just in a half-mile stretch.

The seven-lane highway is Everett’s main commercial thoroughfare, a corridor edged with strip malls, billboards and car lots. Nearly 40,000 people drive it daily.

Everett leaders want to take a hard look at how it could be better.

They’ve spent $150,000 on consultants who will gather ideas and shape a plan that should be finished by April 2011. That plan could include changes that dictate what can be built along the corridor.

You can chime in on the matter at a public meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Evergreen Middle School commons, 7621 Beverly Lane.

“We really want to hear from people,” said Allan Giffen, Everett’s director of planning and community development.

Giffen mentioned a few ideas: Should Evergreen Way include a median down the center with trees? How about bike lanes? How about rules that limit strip mall developments or billboards?

City planners already have a few goals. They include better pedestrian and bike access; connections with surrounding neighborhoods; and aesthetic improvements such as trees.

Officials also want to encourage people to use public transportation, particularly the new Swift bus service. Shops and offices might be clustered around the stations. The city doesn’t want to turn surrounding neighborhoods into a business district, Giffen said. They do want to consider more intensive development. Buildings might be two or three stories tall with parking tucked underneath.

Any major construction projects wouldn’t happen overnight. Even if the city passes different development rules next year, the corridor would evolve slowly as new projects are built. Big projects, such as a median, don’t have funding now. Grants for such projects are limited, and the city would eventually have to find a way to pay.

People can continue to weigh in at several more public workshops in coming months.

The city is zeroing in on a stretch of Evergreen Way from 41st Street to Gibson Road, the farthest south the city plans to grow. An additional $120,000 federal grant also will allow the city to have a say in planning beyond city limits, all the way to 148th Street SW. The city of Lynnwood is already working on a highway plan that starts at 148th and heads south to 216th Street SW.

Barbara Bowen lives a few blocks away from Evergreen Way, and she’d like to see fewer giant car lots and more retail shops. She’d also like to be able to walk to the shops and stores nearby without feeling like she’s taking her life in her hands. She’s not a fan of the median idea. She envisions drivers doing a lot of U-turns as they try to get to the right business.

Bowen, chairwoman of the Pinehurst-Beverly Park Neighborhood Association, said she and some of her neighbors are concerned about a timeline for any major construction projects and any noise or traffic.

“Everyone knows this is going to be an inconvenience while they are doing this but it will be a good thing in the long run,” Bowen said.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, dsmith@heraldnet.com

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