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Ground broken on 156th St. over-crossing

From left, Atkinson Construction Project Manager Charlie DeGasparis, Marysville City Council members Lee Phillips and John Soriano, Mayor Jon Nehring, Council members Michael Stevens and Carmen Rasmussen, Mike Thuringer with Costco, Council member Donna Wright, former Mayor Dennis Kendall and Luke Loeffler with U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen
From left, Atkinson Construction Project Manager Charlie DeGasparis, Marysville City Council members Lee Phillips and John Soriano, Mayor Jon Nehring, Council members Michael Stevens and Carmen Rasmussen, Mike Thuringer with Costco, Council member Donna Wright, former Mayor Dennis Kendall and Luke Loeffler with U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen's office all break ground on the I-5 over-crossing construction project at 156th Street NE and Smokey Point Boulevard on Aug. 11.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

SMOKEY POINT — With a few shovels of turned earth, the goal of an I-5 over-crossing at 156th Street came one step closer to reality on Aug. 11.

"By next year we should be able to traipse over it for the first time," said Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, who was joined at the official groundbreaking ceremony at 156th Street NE and Smokey Point Boulevard by members of the Marysville City Council and city staff, as well as guests such as former Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall and representatives for U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen.

Nehring recalled how the City Council had approved a construction bid of approximately $9.7 million by Renton-based Guy F. Atkinson Construction in June, as well as how Larsen had visited the planned construction site in February with city staff, including Marysville City Engineer John Cowling.

By connecting Smokey Point Boulevard to Twin Lakes Avenue across I-5, Nehring hopes not only to improve public safety and emergency response times, but also to ease traffic congestion on 172nd Street NE and provide another access point to attract as many as 10,000 light industrial and manufacturing jobs in north Marysville.

"This will bolster the local economy," said Nehring, who also lauded the public private partnership that will draw half of its funding from property owners within the approximately 2.5-square-mile designated local improvement district through assessments, with the city funding the other half. "With government funds drying up, it's great when we can come together to think outside the box."

Nehring noted that one advantage of the ongoing recession is that it's created "a great bidding environment" for otherwise costly construction projects.

Stakeholder and technical advisory committees endorsed the proposed 156th Street over-crossing as the best and least costly alternative to ease the "choke-point" of traffic congestion that emerged in the wake of retail development in the "Lakewood Triangle" area half a dozen years ago, a choke-point which Nehring asserted has hindered further development in that area.

Those committees' members include not only the city of Marysville and Lakewood Triangle developers, landowners and residents, but also the Washington state Department of Transportation and Transportation Improvement Board, Snohomish County and its Public Utility District, Community Transit, the city of Arlington, the Tulalip Tribes, local school districts and the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad.

Nehring credited predecessors such as Kendall, fellow city officials including the Council and staff, and community partners with working to make this over-crossing possible, even before Nehring himself made it one of his first priorities after being appointed mayor. He described the overpass as a vital component of the city's economic development plans.

"We're planned, permitted and ready to go," Nehring said. "We're primed for jobs and growth here."

Not everyone is as pleased with this project.

Kelly Wright, Nehring's opponent in the race for Marysville mayor this year, issued a statement to the press questioning whether daily commuters in the area or businesses east of I-5 will see any benefits from the overpass, since it won't connect to I-5 itself.

"The Twin Lakes overpass won't help people get across the train tracks in other areas of the city," Wright said. "It won't do anything to fix the long-term traffic situation in Marysville as a whole."

Wright proposed building overpasses throughout the city to counter traffic congestion caused by trains.

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