Road work tangles traffic in downtown

MARYSVILLE City engineers say motorists will see a big pay off when work is finished on two crucial intersections on a major downtown route.
Right now crews from three different construction companies have torn up the intersections of 47th Avenue NE and Third Street and Fourth Street, only one block apart on one of the citys busiest thoroughfares.
The work was originally scheduled for last summer, but the city only received two bids, and high ones at that. With City Council approval the Marysville Public Works Department rejected the bids and delayed the work until this fall, when more companies would be hungry for business.
According to assistant city engineer Jeff Massie, that saved taxpayers more than $300,000 from the final $2 million bill. The entire project should be done by April 2008, and the underground work that has torn up the two intersections should be finished by Christmas, he added.
The wider intersections and added turn lanes will ease traffic, but first overhead phone and power lines have to be moved before paving can start. Right now there are three different contractors on the spot, and one is installing new underground phones lines for Verizon. Once those are installed the overhead lines can be removed and workers for Snohomish County PUD can move the power lines.
Thats really what most of the work out there is right now, Massie explained. We understand that its tough for traffic. Theres never really a good time for construction.
The $2 million contract with G.G. Excavation stipulates that the utility work cant be done during morning and afternoon commute times, Massie said, appreciating that drivers have been patient during delays so far.
The project will have several benefits to the local grid:
n Widening Fourth Street/64th Street/SR 528 to at least four lanes from I-5 to SR 9. A variance from state regulations will allow the Allen Creek bridge to carry two lanes in each direction, and for most of the other stretch there will be a center turn lane to move cars along.
n A wider intersection will be built at 47th Avenue and Fourth Street, with right turn lanes and a new intersection. Further east, on-street parallel parking on the north side of 64th Street will be banned providing more room for the center turn lane. That road is the citys second busiest east-west connector, and is a state highway that carries about 5,700 daily trips westbound and more than 9,500 eastbound, according to state traffic figures. Widening it to five lanes will improve traffic flow, according to city reports.
n A new stoplight will be installed at Third Street and 47th where a four-way stop now exists. The road leading to Sunnyside Boulevard wont be widened at this time, but work being done now will provide future capacity when the city decides to improve what is designated to be a main arterial.
That will accommodate future road widening in Sunnyside, Massie said.
Sunnyside Boulevard will remain a two-lane road for the foreseeable future, he added. The city is studying the future road needs for the south end of town and hasnt made plans for that route yet. It currently is not at capacity but will likely top out once the hillside develops with residential units, Massie added.
The entrance to Jennings Nature Park opposite of 53rd Avenue NE will also be revamped. That entry is east of the Allen Creek Bridge near Park View Estates.
Massie said great care is being taken to ensure that dirt or sediment dont leach into Allen Creek, a salmon bearing stream running through town into Ebey Slough. The general contractor had to file a stormwater plan with the state to ensure run-off would not reach the creek, which is a long block from the two intersections.
The responsibility is on him to ensure that no sedimentation gets to the stream, Massie said.

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