Council adopts 6th Street corridor study

The study began in mid-2016 and covered the 2.5-mile 6th Street corridor that includes 6th Street, 6th Street South and 108th Avenue Northeast.

Kirkland City Hall. Reporter file photo

Kirkland City Hall. Reporter file photo

Kirkland City Council adopted the 6th Street corridor study, which will advise upcoming city road improvements, at its Feb. 6 meeting.

The study began in mid-2016 and covered the 2.5-mile 6th Street corridor that is made up of 6th Street, 6th Street South and 108th Avenue Northeast. Currently the corridor has four traffic signals, 20 crosswalks and transit stops every quarter-mile.

“I really appreciate the work that we did in integrating transportation, land-use planning with the Houghton/Everest Neighborhood Center and this study,” deputy mayor Jay Arnold said. “This allowed us to do some things in the neighborhood center plan that provided some new requirements or some new incentives to get some of these projects built.”

Council had previously reviewed the study and after a brief presentation, moved to formally and finally adopt the study and begin implementing it into the city’s major plans and capital improvement program documents.

Council member Dave Asher voiced minor concerns regarding waste containers along the corridor and school walk routes. He requested city staff consider the issue as they implement the study.

“There seems to be no rhyme or reason that waste containers are in the front at one property, they’re at the back at the next property and you’ve got kids going in and out of them,” Asher said. “So that pedestrian transportation needs some attention payed to it.”

The study found that the corridor carries five percent of the city’s overall northbound and southbound traffic, which includes I-405. The corridor carries one-third of local, non-highway traffic, while the other two-thirds primarily use Lake Washington Boulevard.

According to Joel Pfundt, the city’s transportation manager, 74-82 percent of 6th Street commuters have at least one end of their trip within Kirkland, with the remaining commuters being through-traffic.

Additionally, the study found that while the average daily traffic has remained relatively constant over the past 15 years — between 10,000 and 13,000 users — the peak congestion period has increased as traffic starts earlier and lasts longer in each direction.

Pfundt said his team focused on the transportation master plan and comprehensive plan when creating solutions for the increased congestion. The two plans emphasize sustainability, moving people, safety, completing systems and meeting future needs. According to Pfundt, the community feedback echoed the city’s ideas during workshops and outreach events.

City staff recommended a number of improvements within the study that council unanimously adopted. The recommended improvements largely focus on public transit, with two queue jumps that include priority traffic signals for buses to get ahead of traffic and accommodate the northbound peak congestion periods.

The city is also working to implement high-capacity transit along the entire Cross Kirkland Corridor. Additionally, Pfundt and city staff have been talking with King County Metro to implement Rapid Ride stops at every half-mile along the 6th Street corridor.

“The travel time improvements that we were able to demonstrate through our analysis and the benefit to those (improvements), they saw as something that they are very interested in working with us on implementing,” Pfundt said.

The corridor study also includes plans for three new traffic signals at 5th Place, 9th Street and Northeast 53rd Street; vehicle turn lanes at Northeast 68th Street and on Kirkland Way at Railroad Avenue; completed bike lanes; a neighborhood greenway at Northeast 60th Street and access improvements at the HENC and South Kirkland Park and Ride.

Overall, council was satisfied with the study and thanked city staff for the work that was put into the project.

“I think it was very thoughtfully done and the improvements and recommendation in this I think are significant for this corridor,” council member Tom Neir said.

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