Nember 13, 2000
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
Fast forward to the year 2006 and take a tour of downtown Woodinville.
Traffic along 175th now moves freely with congestion and back-ups relieved by the new overpass and the improvements to 177th Place which widened the road to three lanes.
And Little Bear Creek, which runs alongside 177th, is now beautified by a lineal park with public paths and park benches.
City gateways identify Woodinville with attractive features at city entrances.
More shops have opened their doors in the tourist district and are easily visited from downtown Woodinville by city shuttle buses. Businesses reflect an architecture with a Northwest woodland character, giving the city a picturesque small- town atmosphere.
This concept for the future of Woodinville is not a dream, but is now in the planning stage. The Woodinville City Council has adopted long range plans, goals and objectives with a vision for the future in mind.
Improving city roads, creating new parks, enhancing city gateways and re-developing the Sorenson property with such possible options as a community center with a youth athletic type of interest are in the plans.
"It's going to be an exciting time for the city," said City Manager Pete Rose.
According to Rose, the concept of an overpass could be transformational for traffic relief.
Beginning north of the interchange at Hwy 202 and 127th, the overpass would swing over SR522 and connect with Bothell somewhere close to Home Depot.
"We're excited about that," Rose said. "We're working at local, county and state levels to get interest in that concept."
The project would be funded from the state, other jurisdictions, grant programs and the real estate excise tax dedicated to capital improvements. The utility tax is destined for the improvements along 177th.
Of the improvements Public Works Director Mick Monken said, "It would provide an alternate route for people trying to get through town."
Traffic has been constricted in Woodinville due to a waterway, a railroad, a freeway, and natural geography.
Each day, 50,000 cars pass through the 175th and 131st intersection, choking traffic at the railroad trestle, the intersection at 177th, the downtown, and the south bypass.
The City Council passed the utility tax in 1998 to rebuild 177th to three or five lanes in response to the commercial development which included Target, Top Food and Drug and adjacent businesses.
"Right now with traffic modeling we think three lanes are enough," Rose said.
The difficulty, though, is that 177th is next to Little Bear Creek, a salmon bearing stream.
Due to the listing of some species of salmon as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), compliance with salmon protection guidelines is the City Council's priority.
Before widening 177th and putting in urban amenities, such as public walkways, the city will have to take into consideration how the improvements will impact salmon habitat.
"How that is implemented is still being negotiated at the county level," Rose said.
To meet the ESA guidelines, there will be a certain amount of space in the zone alongside the creek that will not be touched for any reason, and further from that, another zone will have limited improvement.
The number of feet required in the buffer zone by the National Marine Fisheries Service may be increased and that is also a consideration facing the City.
A lineal park is in the plans for the area between Little Bear Creek and SR 522. The park would offer the public a green space with walking paths and park benches as well as preserve and protect salmon habitat.
Also on the City's list of goals are visually enhanced city gateways designed to greet visitors driving into Woodinville.
The type of gateway design and prospective locations are not definite at this time, but some of the citizen requests include waterfalls and ponds.
Another goal for visual enhancement encourages a commercial building design accentuating a Northwest woodland character. This type of architecture promotes comfortable human environments using natural materials and neutral shades.
The City's vision is a quaint mill- town look, buildings in a cottage or cabin-style design.
The office building of attorneys Phillips and Webster on 175th next to City Hall or the new City Hall building on 133rd Ave. are examples of Northwest woodland character design. However, larger businesses, such as Top Food and Drug, have incorporated wood elements and corrugated metal to fit in with the City's goal for a rural-look.
In the tourist district where the wineries, Willows Lodge and the Herbfarm Restaurant are located, the City envisions a higher standard of landscaping along bike paths as well as more development of shops.
Shuttle buses transporting tourists back and forth from the wineries and hotel to downtown has been suggested by a tourist group and is being looked into.
All of these concepts are still in the early stages and are currently at some level of discussion, study or implementation.
Next in line for the overpass is a design study.
"Right now the overpass is in the very preliminary stage," said Monken. "We've had a couple of meetings and we're waiting to meet with the Public Works Directors of Bothell and Redmond," he added.
Regarding the widening of 177th, the Council has called a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in Room 25.
The Council will meet with the City Planning Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commisssion. Private owners and businesses along Little Bear Creek have been notified about the meeting.
The discussion will include improvements of 177th and how they are conducive to the area, encouragement of retail and tourist based development and ESA buffers and how improvements will impact Little Bear Creek. The public is welcome to attend.
For further information on the meeting or any of the City's future projects, call City Hall at (425) 489-2700.