A cyclist crosses Highway 99 at 220th Street before riding south along the highway on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A cyclist crosses Highway 99 at 220th Street before riding south along the highway on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

State law prompts Edmonds to add bike lanes on Highway 99 overhaul

The Legislature’s Move Ahead Washington package requires “complete streets” for state transportation projects.

EDMONDS — State law passed last year is prompting Edmonds to add space for protected bike lanes to the years-long planned redo of Highway 99.

Other projects across Snohomish County and the state likely will follow.

The Legislature’s Move Ahead Washington transportation package added a section to state law. It requires the state Department of Transportation to add facilities for all road users on state projects that started design since July 1, 2022, and cost at least $500,000. This extends to projects led by cities and counties that receive state funding.

The law affected Edmonds’ Highway 99 revitalization plans, as first reported by The Urbanist.

“It’s exciting to see how this is all coming together and I’m glad that we’re benefiting by the new legislation last year,” Edmonds City Council member Susan Paine said during the March 28 meeting.

City leaders sought to improve safety on the historically dangerous stretch of highway and make it more inviting through the project estimated to cost up to $243 million.

Work is being done in stages between 210th and 244th Streets SW, most recently the removal of the two-way turn lane. That space between northbound and southbound traffic will get tree-lined center medians and mid-block left turn pockets.

The next two stages could redo the lane striping to shrink the two general purpose lanes from 12 to 11 feet wide between 220th and 244th Streets SW.

Initially the project had 2 feet between the inside travel lanes and the center raised median. Edmonds’ contracted consultant and transportation engineer proposed eliminating that space, taking 1 foot from the bus and turn lane, 1 foot from the planter strip and another foot from the sidewalk. That would make room for the bike lanes next to the sidewalks where they will be separated from vehicle traffic.

With the raised center median in place, the city asked the Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit from 45 to 40 mph.

“I do think this is an incredible improvement in quality of life, especially for children,” council member Jenna Nand said March 28.

If the lower speed limit is approved, it would be similar to Shoreline but lower than the 45 mph through Lynnwood. The city just north of Edmonds doesn’t plan to seek a reduction from the WSDOT, but could depending on what is learned after the change in Edmonds, Lynnwood spokesperson Nathan MacDonald wrote in an email.

Council member Diane Buckshnis questioned the need for bike lanes and how effective lowering speed limits will be on changing driver behavior.

“Highway 99 isn’t really a downtown area. It’s a major arterial,” Buckshnis said. “I cannot recall in the 30 years I’ve been around here someone biking along Highway 99.”

The goal of adding bike lanes along Highway 99 is to help people reach destinations along it, from businesses to bus stops, consultant Lisa Reid said. Currently a cyclist would mix with cars in the road or people on the “pretty narrow” sidewalks.

In feedback through the project, they’ve consistently heard requests for bike lanes, Reid said.

New development with ground-floor retail and upper floor residences is coming in along the highway, Edmonds city engineer Rob English said. It’s likely to make the highway’s sidewalks and proposed shared-use path busier.

Edmonds staff also proposed adjusting stages 3 and 4 slated for construction in a few years.

Stage 3’s recommendation was to add bike lanes in each direction of 238th Street SW. Northbound highway traffic at the intersection would get another left turn lane as well.

Stage 4’s proposal was to make dual left turns for northbound, southbound and westbound traffic at the intersection of 220th Street SW and Highway 99. The city wants to make a 12-foot shared use path with a planter strip separating it from traffic on the north side of 220th Street SW. That would connect to the Interurban Trail east of the highway near Hall Creek. Staff were working with Mountlake Terrace, which owns the right-of-way on the northeast corner of the highway intersection.

Everett Public Works spokesperson Kathleen Baxter said staff adjusted plans for bike lanes to 100th Street SW as a traffic-calming measure. The project initially called for bike markings on the street from Everett city limits at 24th Place W to Evergreen Way.

The city revised the plan to put the bike lane 6 inches above the road with a 2-foot buffer from cars. That work, funded through the Move Ahead Washington package, won’t begin until 2026 at the earliest based on the Legislature’s funding schedule, Baxter wrote in an email.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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