Downtown Sunnyside to lose traffic lights, but will gain planter boxes, wider sidewalks

The Sunnyside Public Works Committee met Monday night to hear a presentation on the status of the city’s downtown revitalization project from Huibregtse, Louman Associates, Inc.

Jeff Louman told the committee that the design process is about 70 percent complete. A few more design decisions need to be made to proceed because the project as it stands is over budget.

Colie Hough-Beck of HBB Landscape Architecture first presented the design as it stands. She pointed out that the theme had moved toward circular designs and so she had found benches that are similar to the original benches the city picked that have a more circular theme and are slightly less expensive.

She also showed the committee the tree grates for the trees in the downtown core along with a fence design for planter boxes that are planned for sidewalks along both Edison Avenue and Sixth Street. A sample of the fence was on hand to demonstrate its height and durability.

Hough-Beck also had a brick sample for the paving of the sidewalk, which is planned to be placed in a half running bond pattern, with bricks offset by half the width of the short end. The bricks will be laid on a concrete slab.

“They won’t be going anywhere and won’t get loose,” she said.

The sidewalks are planned to bulb out at the intersection of Sixth Street and Edison Avenue, and the existing sidewalks will be expanded along much of the area to provide space for outdoor seating and more room for events.

The brick, tree grates and fencing she is recommending are all made in the state.

Hough-Beck also showed how the tall overhead street lights would fit into the downtown pattern.

Louman tackled the financials, saying that the pedestrian lights the city has chosen, while very close to what Sunnyside had in the past as seen in historical photos, are also very expensive. Although the lights are LED and will cost less to maintain, the initial costs of all the improvements downtown are over the city’s budget by about $350,000.

Louman said there are two ways the city can reduce the cost. One is to remove slightly more than half the pedestrian lights and planter boxes. The other option is to remove the traffic signal at the intersection of Sixth Street and Edison Avenue.

The consensus of the committee was that removing the traffic signal and replacing it with a four-way stop will be the best choice in the long run. Louman noted that if a traffic light is ever needed at that intersection again, it would be easier to put one in than to put in planter boxes and pedestrian street lamps at a later date.

Later in the evening the entire city council heard the plan and asked for feedback from the deputy police chief and fire chief regarding the idea. Both agreed that it would not cause more problems. Superintendent of Public Works Shane Fisher said removing the traffic light would mean less maintenance for city crews.

In addition to the removal of the traffic light at Sixth Street and Edison Avenue, the plan already calls for the removal of the traffic lights along Sixth Street at Franklin Avenue and Decatur Avenue. Both of those lights will be replaced by a two-way stop with traffic on Sixth Street having the right-of-way.

During the committee meeting Huibregtse, Louman Associates, Inc. also suggested removing the traffic signal at Seventh Street and Edison Avenue and replacing it with a four-way stop. This proposal also met with committee approval and was presented to council.

The council decided to prepare a resolution for the next regular meeting to turn the traffic signals on Edison Avenue and Sixth and Seventh streets to four-way stops.


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