State and city outline plans for local roads

State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Oak Harbor, speaks on transportation issues as Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall looks on. - TOM CORRIGAN The Marysville Globe
State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Oak Harbor, speaks on transportation issues as Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall looks on.
— image credit: TOM CORRIGAN The Marysville Globe

TULALIP Speaking to a gathering of the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce on July 25, State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Oak Harbor, asked listeners to be patient in more ways than one regarding transportation issues.

Firstly, Haugen said drivers have to be tolerant in dealing with ongoing road construction, road construction those same often impatient drivers wanted to see happen.

Probably more importantly, Haugen urged patience and cooperation between federal, state and local officials in solving traffic and transportation issues.

"There is no one single answer," Haugen said.

She added the traditional method of funding road projects namely local officials heading to Olympia and begging for money is largely outdated. Haugen said cities, counties and the state are going to have to increasingly be partners on road improvements.

"It's going to be a challenging year," she said. "The budget does look bleak."

Haugen was one of several speakers during a chamber Business Before Hours forum on transportation issues.

WSDOT's Lorena Eng said gas taxes have raised some $11 billion for road projects in recent years. Snohomish County has received approximately $1.2 billion of that amount. She argued that contrary to some public opinion, WSDOT and the legislature are not ignoring road congestion problems.

As proof, Eng pointed to the now largely completed expansion of I-5 through Everett. The state held a ribbon cutting on new HOV lanes in that city in June. Night crews are putting finishing touches on the project, Eng added, with new ramp meters and cameras scheduled to be operational by the end of summer.

Eng also touched on several other projects, many of which are underway or have been made public previously: the resurfacing of SR 528 or Fourth Street; the plans to replace what many consider the dangerous wire highway dividers along I-5 with concrete barriers. The latter work should get underway next year.

One project which did not receive much attention is the plan to improve access to the Smokey Point area by continuing work on the I-5 intersection with 172nd Street/SR 531. Construction on the northwest portion of the cloverleaf should start next year.

A second WSDOT representative, Richard Warren said a study of the SR 9 corridor should be done by early 2009. A working group consisting of local representatives from Marysville, Arlington and other surrounding communities is completing the study.

Warren said the group studied 19 intersections along a 30 mile stretch of the road in Snohomish County.

Of the intersections looked at, Warren said 11 already have, or projections show will experience, palpable congestion. The working group will come up with recommendations on how to fix the problem spots, as well what Warren called "connecting the dots" between the intersections. In other words, detailing whatever widening or road projects might be needed to reduce problems at SR 9 choke points.

As for roadwork being completed by the city of Marysville, Mayor Dennis Kendall hit on several projects. The biggest is probably the $12 million widening and beautification work underway on State Avenue between 136th to 152cd streets. That work is scheduled for completion in August 2009.

Hitting on other topics, Kendall admitted the I-5 and 88th Street interchange is often the sight of plenty of traffic congestion. He said the city and officials of the Tulalip Tribes have been discussing various solutions.

Kendall also touched briefly on creation of an I-5 overpass in the Lakewood area. He said the ultimate answer to traffic problems surrounding the Lakewood Crossing shopping plaza is a full-fledged freeway interchange, but guessed that work is probably 10 years away.

Regarding access around Lakewood Crossing, in answering a question from the audience, Eng admitted there is no quick solution on the way.

Currently, there is only one way in and out of the shopping center, which includes major retailers such as Target and Best Buy.

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