Walmart construction begins

SMOKEY POINT — Approximately six years and numerous delays later, construction crews on Monday, Jan. 25, began building a new Walmart in Smokey Point.

The 154,000-square-foot store will be erected just east of Interstate 5 on SR 531 — also known at 172nd Street NE — and city officials said they expect it to be open by October.

City of Arlington spokeswoman Kristin Banfield confirmed on Thursday, Jan. 21, that the crews would begin construction on the $8 million store.

The store would go up across the street from the Arlington Municipal Airport, and officials have estimated that it will bring additional jobs to Arlington.

But the new Walmart will also likely put a strain on the already-congested stretch of 172nd Street NE.

To help combat traffic, the Arlington City Council recently received a final recommendation by the Washington State Department of Transportation for improvements to the road that would ease congestion and help reduce accidents.

Funding for those projects, which could include extending a strip of the road from two lanes to four and adding at least one traffic circle, could be added to SR 531 once funding becomes available, city officials said.

But when and how much state funds become available has not yet been determined.

The effort to build the Arlington Walmart has been underway for years, but opposition from groups and business owners have slowed the process.

After being brought to the Snohomish County Superior Court in 2007, a lawsuit by a group of residents called Arlington-Smokey Point Community Matters was dropped.

Later that year, Walmart officials decided to push back construction of the Arlington store to the first quarter of 2010.

“We love doing business in Snohomish County,” Walmart spokeswoman Jennifer Spall said in December 2007. “This was an overall strategic decision made by the company. This was us looking at how we are growing.”

Walmart already has a location at the Tulalip Quil Ceda Village, just west of Interstate 5.

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