Community News

2016 0210 so commercial 600

A consultant hired by the city to work on a design to enhance South Commercial Ave., that area south of 12th St., has three design alternatives, but says only one of the three meets their criteria.

The city hired Alta Planning + Design was hired “to develop design options that allow people to access destinations along the So. Commercial corridor safely and reliably, by foot, assistive device, bicycle, transit, and vehicle by creating a comprehensive, integrated, and multi-modal corridor.”

Their plans are aimed at strengthening the visual appearance and support a vibrant economy on Commercial south from 12th St.

Alta last week took a survey of parking along So. Commercial and found several areas where on-street parking was only lightly utilized or not permitted. These areas could make good gathering spots for people. Such zones might include pocket parklets.

The alternatives include:

Concept A traffic flow visualization

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Concept A, also called the Avenue plan, features ten-foot sidewalks with trees, six-foot bike lanes, with two-foot buffers, seven-foot parallel parking and ten-foot travel and center turn lanes. The buffers, bike lines and sidewalks would be raised the normal curb level, about six inches, above pavement. Pedestrian zones would include wider buffers, with trees on one side of Commercial as well as planted center medians.

Concept B - traffic flow between pedestrian zones

2016 0210 so commercial b corridor 600

Concept B, also called the Parkway plan, features 8.5-foot sidewalks, six-foot bike lanes, four-foot planted butters, seven-foot parallel parking, ten-foot travel lanes and nine-foot center turn lanes. Pedestrian zones would do away with parking, would increase tree plantings with larger buffers. The Parkway plan includes raised intersections, so called table-top paving.

Concept C traffic flow visualization

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Concept C, also called the Boulevard plan, this plan would put two-way bike lanes on the west (or east) side of Commercial separated from traffic lanes by a buffer and, in most areas, parallel parking. It features ten-foot sidewalks, four-foot planted buffers between bike lanes and traffic, seven-foot parallel parking, with eleven-foot travel lanes. And, a ten-foot planted median with turn pockets.

Here the criteria that Alta says support Concept B, the Parkway:


  • Connects to future bike routes and easier transitions
  • Easy access to businesses with bike lanes on each side of the street
  • Vehicle left turn lane only between pedestrian activation zones


  • Separates all modes, wide sidewalks and bike facilities
  • Reduced lane width and planted medians for speed management
  • Rapid Flash Crossing Beacons at future bike crossings


  • Most area to treat stormwater
  • Continuous tree canopy


  • Lowest stress bike facilities
  • Improved crossings to housing and park
  • Parklets increases opportunity for social interaction


  • Consolidated parking
  • No parking in pedestrian activation zone


  • More flexible for implementation


  • Most equitable distribution of infrastructure

Concept B pedestrian zones

2016 0210 so commercial b peds 600

When the three alternatives were presented to the City Council at Monday’s study session, Concept B won praise from most council members.

Council member Eric Johnson said he likes having more trees, but wondered if some businesses might worry about missing business if their signs are blocked by trees. Council member Matt Miller, a business owner, said the designers are on the right track, but noted that trees have a hard time in sidewalks, referring to the multitude of city sidewalks broken by growing trees. Council members Brad Adams, John Archibald and Erica Pickett all endorsed Concept B.

The cost of rebuilding the street will be s factor when Alta comes back with a more detailed design proposal.

Steve Durrant, Alta’s Principal & Vice-President, said their design refinement will include some sort of cost estimate.

Another factor is whether the state Department of Transportation would approve the plan. South Commercial is a state highway. In fact, the state maintains this area of street, not the city.

Alta’s final design may be incorporated into the 2016 Comprehensive Plan Update, now going through a separate process.

The design contract was funded by a $75,000 grant from the state DOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety program, along with $25,000 from the city.

You can view Alta’s slide presentation to the City Council on the City’s Web site.

COVID-19 Cases in Skagit County

5,024 Confirmed Skagit Cases
410-419 Total Cases in ZIP 98221

324 Hospitalizations
70 Deaths
48,187 Fully Vaccinated
59,306 Initial Doses Given


385,762 Confirmed Cases Statewide
23,019 Hospitalizations

5,614 Deaths Statewide
2,683,216 Fully Vaccinated
3,528,927 Initial Doses Given

Updated 8 pm, May 12, 2021.

County Map: Confirmed COVID-19 cases by ZIP code in Skagit County. Updated weekly.

Sources: Skagit County Public Health, Washington State Department of Health, New York Times