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Arlington, Marysville receive road funds

Arlington and Marysville are among 40 Washington cities that have been chosen to receive shares of $50 million in federal safety funds for 75 street improvement projects statewide.

More than $9 million in federal funds have been set aside to improve safety on streets in Snohomish County alone, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Arlington expects to receive approximately $44,000 for such improvements, while Marysville is looking to receive approximately $1,744,000, with much of that money centered on State Avenue. The two cities will share monies for improvements to Smokey Point Boulevard.

The intersections for which Arlington is responsible on Smokey Point Boulevard are 169th, 172nd and 174th streets, for which funds of approximately $7,000, $10,000 and $27,000 have been set aside, respectively, to add yellow back plate retroreflective tape, upgrade pedestrian displays to the countdown type, and also upgrade mast arm street name signs to current size, lettering style and retroreflective standards. The left turn phasing at the intersection of 174th Street and Smokey Point Boulevard will also be modified from permissive to protected/permissive.

“These are relatively minor measures that will improve safety by improving visibility,” said Jim Kelly, public works director for the city of Arlington. “By making them more reflective, the signs will stand out more, so that they’re more noticeable in storms or at night.”

Although Arlington has not yet been awarded its funds, once that happens, Kelly plans to use the city’s contract with Snohomish County’s road maintenance crews to install the improvements, possibly before the end of the summer.

“We already have an interlocal agreement with them to perform maintenance like this, to help keep our roads safe.”

While $250,000 of the funds going to Marysville fall under the heading of citywide intersection safety improvements, the remainder will be devoted to State Avenue’s intersections — $1,395,000 to its intersections with First through 88th streets, and $99,000 to its intersections with 116th through 128th streets.

“These funds were based on histories of serious accidents,” said John Tatum, traffic engineer for the city of Marysville. “If your locations weren’t the sites of serious accidents, you weren’t invited to apply. We were told that we could do a few big improvements or a bunch of little improvements, on as many intersections as we wanted, so we did a number of smaller improvements on other intersections, while setting aside funds for the big items at the intersection of State Avenue and 88th Street.”

While the intersections with streets such as First, Third, Sixth, Eighth and 76th received similar improvements to those of Arlington, ranging from yellow back plate retroreflective tape and upgraded pedestrian displays to pedestrian walk timing for four of those crossings, Fourth Street’s intersection is designated to receive improvements to its traffic signals including queue detection for gridlock caused by train crossings, while the signal system at the 80th Street intersection is slated to be completely replaced. As for the 88th Street intersection with State Avenue, it’s due to receive a westbound thru/right-turn lane, an additional northbound signal head, pedestrian walk timing and advanced railroad preemption circuitry.

“These measures address specific issues that we’ve had,” Tatum said. “They improve safety by relieving congestion, since stop-and-go traffic leads to more rear-enders. We’re also working with the railroads to improve the crosswalk timing and give pedestrians a better chance.”

Tatum personally credited city of Marysville Public Works Director Kevin Nielsen with pushing him to “be bold” in seeking these improvement funds, although he reiterated that every request was motivated by a demonstrated need.

“Hopefully, this will help our signals at the intersection of Fourth and State get smarter, so that cars aren’t sitting there on a green light when the train is going across,” Tatum said. “We’ve got a pole at Fourth and Cedar that’s been hit three times by trucks, so this will help take care of that problem too.”

WSDOT studied collisions for a five-year period and discovered that intersection-related crashes accounted for more than half of all serious injury and fatality collisions on city streets and city-maintained state highways.


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