City lines up funding for Pine Street reconstruction

 

By Ian Dunn

Editor

 

The Leavenworth City Council has approved a local agency agreement and project prospectus between the city and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for the Pine Street project.

“Once this is approved and approved at WSDOT, it obligates the funding. We received federal funding last year. This is the first step is making those funds available to the engineer as this moves forward. Once this was in place, it obligates the bonds, so they can’t be taken and put to a different project,” said City Administrator Joel Walinski, at the April 25 city council meeting.

The prospectus and local agency agreement covers the initial engineering up to and including documents for bid, Walinski said. An email from Pine Street resident, Craig Hess, was mentioned.

“He has thoughts regarding the potential sidewalk and not wanting to adopt the standards of the bicycle agencies and WSDOT. He also had a question about the trees,” Walinski said.

Walinski said, with Pete Olson’s Pine Street development, city staff made it clear they did not want trees planted in the swale, but trees planted anywhere behind the 10-foot pathway is recommended. The city currently does not have a requirement that a development plant trees in the front yard or boulevard.

“That might be something the planning commission or council might want to consider going forward, but at this point in time, that is not part of the plan. We do appreciate Pete making the recommendation. We can encourage, but at the end of the day, he wanted to have those trees.,” Walinski said.

Councilwoman Mia Bretz asked why trees could not be planted in the swale. Walinski said it is a drainage ditch for stormwater. Planting trees there would clog up the ditch and create blockage. Bretz said she thought it was supposed to be a grassy swale that had plants which absorbed water.

“It will eventually have vegetation in it. Unfortunately, because of the size of the ditch and the proximity to the trail and street, there is a lot of gravel, but it is vegetative. Over time, it will be,” said Herb Amick, city public works director.

The swale is about three feet, said Mayor Cheri Kelley Farivar.

“If many trees were planted in that, imagine what would happen as the root systems grow. It would not be a ditch at all. It would have no runoff capacity. It is inappropriate to put it in the ditch,” Farivar said. “We did offer the offer of putting it in the city right-of-way. We suggested that as an option and it was not accepted.”

Councilman Elmer Larsen wondered how the city would keep the swale clear, considering the problems the county has had keeping the ditches clear on Pine Street and Ski Hill. Walinski said it will have to be mowed at some point in time.

The ditches that come down Titus and Ski Hill are deep and wide, Farivar said. She said the county uses a special piece of equipment to do it. The Pine Street swale will be mow-able.

“It will be a line trimmer job. Eventually, it will be a maintenance issue. You want some vegetation so it scrubs,”

Bretz asked if the council were still going to have design discussions on Pine Street. Walinski said that is true.

“What we moved ahead with, and was council approved, was the design section for Pete Olson’s property. That is the only thing that has been approved finally. Anything else, we can go back and revisit,” Walinski said. “There is some fine tuning that has to be done, I believe from Central over to Titus, where the right-of-way kind of ends. There are discussions about how does the sidewalk fit next to the residential homes.”

The question you have to remember, Farivar said, is there are requirements for federal funding.

“To just make a sidewalk narrower because you think it is aesthetically correct is appropriate if you want federal funding, for Safe Routes to School (grant), Bike Paths to School (grant) and regular street funding, there are requirements that we have to meet,” Farivar said. “They may not be what some of the residents like, but they are what they are and we have to abide by them, if we want that funding.”

Amick noted the recently completed Chumstick Trail was built with federal funds. Walinski said, on the Chumstick Trail, the city went through a very lengthy process to get deviation from 10-feet to 8-feet on the trail, but they were unsuccessful.

“Because of the side slope and the pieces around that and we have the roadway tightening things in. That was an excellent spot for getting some type of deviation from a 10-foot trail. We were unsuccessful. I’m not certain about going through a mitigation or deviation process on Pine Street, where you have nice, flat, wide surfaces,” Walinski said.

On Pine Street, there is sufficient right-of-way and a flat area, Farivar said. You have to have that, especially for the Safe Route to School grants.

“Those are specific because of the children on the right-of-way. They want a wide right-of-way for strollers and bicycles and everybody to share,” Farivar said. “I don’t see the 10-feet as being excessive in any fashion. I think most engineers would tell you that.”

If there was not a multi-use trail, the city would be pressed to have bike lanes on Pine Street, Councilman Elmer Larsen said.

“What we do is widen our road and put a bike lane there. I think it is lot better, especially with the grade school there, you have kids riding off the road,” Larsen said. “The multi-use trail is a real positive thing for protecting the kids. The Chumstick Trail has been well received.”

Farivar said no one has complained Chumstick Trail is too wide. As the project gets closer to Titus, Larsen said there are some big pines there that people will not want to give up. That is going to be one of the design configurations, he said.

“I should share with you that you can’t go around a pine tree. That is a funding issue. It is a design consideration, but not much of one,” Farivar said.

Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or editor@leavenworthecho.com.

 

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