Langley to hire Second Street designers as project overseers

Part of the road is cracked and sunken along Second Street in Langley. The base of the road is failing, and the city has plans to redo the street from Cascade to Anthes avenues beginning in January.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Part of the road is cracked and sunken along Second Street in Langley. The base of the road is failing, and the city has plans to redo the street from Cascade to Anthes avenues beginning in January.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Langley city leaders are ready to give KPG, Inc. a $230,000 contract to manage a major overhaul of Second Street.

KPG, a Seattle-based firm that handles engineering, architecture, transportation and traffic, among other work, has a history with Langley. It won the $250,000 design contract to revamp Second Street in 2012.

That contract also included a provision to be the construction project manager, should the city choose KPG. The firm proposed work that will radically change the look and function of the downtown stretch from Cascade to Anthes avenues.

“We’re hoping it creates a welcoming space,” said Mayor Fred McCarthy. “One more inviting to move back and forth across the street.”

Rather than just replace a failing road base and utility lines, Langley will take the opportunity to create a more vibrant business area. Early designs eliminated white-striped crosswalks in favor of raised pavers, now likely stamped/patterned concrete, across the roadway amid planters and trees — visual cues for drivers to slow down.

Making the area more pedestrian oriented was a main emphasis in the early design of a reworked Second Street by KPG. Halfway down Second Street, near the Braeburn Restaurant and South Whidbey Commons, will be a plaza with a defined crossing area, planters and patterned concrete.

“The whole point of this project is to tie in with the existing character,” said Planning Director Jeff Arango. Art by KPG Engineering | This artist's rendering of Second Street shows the wider sidewalks and pedestrian focused plaza near the Braeburn Restaurant and South Whidbey Commons.

The plaza and increased sidewalk space, from six feet to 10 feet wide, will reduce parking spaces on Second Street. Arango said he noticed lots of pedestrian traffic this summer to accompany vehicle traffic, but parking will be available in the vicinity.

Another change is the proposed truck loading zone, which was eliminated by Langley’s former mayor, Larry Kwarsick, in April 2012.

That decision had merchants riled as delivery trucks parked in one lane on Second Street and traffic was forced to drive around until a special loading zone was designated in front of the South Whidbey Commons.

A new loading zone is planned for the eastbound lane near the US Bank building. Currently a parking lot entrance prohibits a loading zone there, but city officials are working with US Bank to close off that access. Ben Watanabe / The Record | The view from the north side of Second Street as it exists in 2013. The form and function of the area will change dramatically next year with the Second Street redesign project finished by May 2014.

“Our primary driver for all of this is an economic driver,” McCarthy said.

Arango cited advantages to the loading zone site as improved access for the trucks, a minimal grade which allows trucks to follow state law and park in the direction of adjacent traffic, and a minimal impact on pedestrian-oriented businesses.

The contract proposal was to go before city council Monday, but the council canceled its meeting when it failed to have a quorum. It will be presented to council members at their next meeting Sept. 23.

Construction is tentatively slated to run from January to May.

The idea, McCarthy said, was to limit the impact on businesses by scheduling work after the holiday season and before summer tourism begins.

“We want to be sensitive to the need to not interrupt commerce,” McCarthy said.

Funding for the $231,706 contract will come from state and federal grants. The contract was already approved by the Washington Department of Transportation, which is the main funding authority.


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