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Design team continues study of Park Lane in Kirkland

The Park Lane design team knows Kirkland residents want a Park Lane corridor that is walkable, vibrant and green. But how those general values translate into specific details, such as types of lighting fixtures or surface textures, is not so clear.

To clarify these details, the Park Lane design team is hosting a drop-in workshop from 10 a.m. to noon, April 22 on the west end of Park Lane. At this workshop, residents and stakeholders will add specificity to the general idea of the plaza-style street, which community members conceptualized a few years ago.

The basic concept calls for a one-level street with trees, rain gardens, bollards and surface textures separating drivers from walkers, as opposed to curbs and sidewalks.

Construction is scheduled to begin January 2015 and to end later that winter. Until then, the design team will be determining a plethora of technical and aesthetic details, such as whether to design the corridor with a modern or classical look, whether to use pavers or pervious concrete.

This week, for example, a contracted arborist will be evaluating tree health along Park Lane and a geotechnical engineer will be investigating the soil beneath the street to determine how much stormwater it can absorb.

The primary purpose of all of this is to create a street that people want to go to, not just through—and along the way, improve downtown’s walkability while protecting Lake Washington from the stormwater that flushes through Park Lane.

To improve Park Lane’s walkability and environmental sensitivity, the Park Lane project earned two grants. The Transportation Alternatives Program awarded it with an $857,000 grant to improve its walkability and the Washington State Department of Ecology added another $739,000 for improving water quality. Combined, these two grants are paying for more than half of the project’s estimated costs.

“For a project to receive one grant is good,” says Gina Hortillosa, the city of Kirkland’s Park Lane project engineer. “To receive two means this is a very important project that will accomplish several things.”

The design team is finishing this week the last few of more than 20 interviews with Park Lane’s business- and property-owners. The purpose of each of these interviews is for the design team to understand how each business interacts with its customers, employees and with the street itself.

This exercise has already produced an idea-echo, such as the idea to build a canopy of lights over Park Lane and to create a space on the corridor that could accommodate small performances.

For a more comprehensive story that details the history, purpose and future of Park Lane, please visit kirklandwa.gov/parklaneproject

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