October 8, 2001
Change is just beginning for Little Bear Creek Corridor
by Bronwyn Wilson
A change is beginning to take place in a downtown Woodinville location known as the Little Bear Creek Corridor.
The area extends along Northeast 177th Place between the railroad track and SR 522, stretching from the commercially developed region near McLendon Hardware to the residential areas north of Northeast 195th Street. At the completion of the change, the city's downtown landscape will have a newly constructed corridor with easier traffic access, pedestrian and bicycle friendliness and the beauty of a lineal park.
The first phase has begun with the construction of a new right-turn lane on Northeast 177th Place which will accommodate traffic heading west onto 131st Avenue.
Longer-range plans for the corridor area involve widening the road to three lanes, installing a left-turn lane and placing a sidewalk on the north side of the road.
In addition, there will be landscaped islands, bicycle lanes and a pedestrian asphalt trail.
"It's going to look great," said Mick Monken, public works director. The City Council will make a final decision on the additional road improvements to the corridor sometime next year. "We're looking at construction in 2002," Monken said.
Road improvements on Northeast 177th will relieve traffic congestion on Northeast 175th and promote better access for the surrounding businesses.
To fund the improvements, the City Council approved a utility tax a few years ago. The city has also acquired key parcels of high-quality salmon habitat and recreation lands within the corridor.
The land, which borders Chinook-bearing Little Bear Creek, will define the area for a future park called the Little Bear Creek Lineal Park. Addressing the protection of salmon while adding greenery to the area, the lineal park will contain trails, interpretive facilities, viewpoints, and the skate park that is being designed this fall in conjunction with Woodinville High School.
The city plans to involve the entire community in volunteer projects that will help to protect and restore the habitat along the creek.
"The Parks and Recreation Commission is excited about this hidden treasure," said Lane Youngblood, director of Parks and Recreation. "If we can provide an opportunity for people to know and care about Little Bear Creek and at the same time promote strong and compatible economic development in this area, we will have a very attractive and inviting downtown."
According to Senior Planner Becky Perkins, the city is in the final stage of nailing down the goals for the corridor master plan.
"We've gone to the Planning Commission and Parks Commission to identify broad goals," she said, adding that several interests are involved in the area's development including land use, recreation opportunities and the environmental concerns of building along a creek-sensitive area. "What we're trying to do is be efficient in how we coordinate all those interests," she said.
The Little Bear Creek Corridor project comes out of the city's Master Plan, which is a guide for projects in the area.
At this time, the only physical project is the road. The development of the future lineal park is not yet set. However, the Master Plan will provide guidelines for developing it. "The purpose of the Master Plan is to guide public and private development in a manner that is cohesive, complementary and consistent with the city's overall vision," said Perkins.
"The goals of the plan represent the city's desire to create a commercial corridor that takes advantage of all the valuable amenities, like Little Bear Creek and the newly acquired park property, and unique opportunities of Woodinville's natural and man-made environments."