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Marysville wary of planning commissions Sunnyside road plans
The plan is there for a reason, and now the plan is up in the air.
But there are at least 50 million reasons why city engineers preferred a different series of routes to connect the newly annexed Whiskey Ridge area, and all of them were dollars.
By sending a new road scheme back to engineers for more work, the Marysville Planning Commission is losing sight of the big picture, according to Marysville Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson.
She said city planners drew up a system of roads that would tie into a regional network to give drivers options when one or more routes are clogged with traffic mishaps or construction projects. Now the commission has sent planners back to the drawing board, but Swenson said their preferred route would cost taxpayers in money, time and frustration.
The road plan that had been recommended would have basically given several different options, Swenson said. It gave a more regional network approach.
That tack would benefit the whole region and would be more cost effective, as the task of improving Sunnyside Boulevard to a five-lane arterial could cost at least $50 million and impact 350 property owners, including requiring the city to buy at least 10 homes. Thats a big change from the citys plan for the east Sunnyside and Whiskey Ridge areas, which came into city boundaries last December.
New roads would be built by developers, largely at their cost, and would include a new improved connection with 67th Avenue NE feeding into 71st Avenue NE, and eventually connecting to Soper Hill Road at the citys southern boundary. An new east-west route at about 40th Street NE would pull more traffic to and from SR 9, and Sunnyside Boulevard would continue to handle some of the load to the west, also connecting to Soper Hill Road.
The commissions order to look at making Sunnyside Boulevard carry all of the load would upset the balance and threatens to change the nature of the once rural road into a huge thoroughfare similar to SR 528. That would cause huge problems just to the east of the downtown corridor where Sunnyside connects to Third Street at 47th Avenue.
What that does is it bottlenecks downtown, where we already have more issues, Swenson said.
Indeed, planning commission chairman Steve Muller, who lives on the boulevard, said any change or increase would be like emptying a fire hose into a thimble.
Still, the commission remanded the road plan back to staff, with the stipulation they should examine the feasibility of making Sunnyside Boulevard the main route for the southern part of town. If thats done then commuters to Everett and King County will likely make the two- and three-lane road into another alternate route to SR 9 and the U.S. 2 trestle, Swenson said, although she admits that is the case now, albeit on a smaller scale. But creating a five-lane road would be prohibitively expensive, with latest estimates coming in at around $50 million.
That is probably a low estimate when you start looking at the cost of that many property takes, Swenson said. Im not really sure where we would come up with that money.
Marysville has been called a 9-to-5 city, meaning its wedged between Interstate 5 and SR 9. And when either of those regional connectors is fouled with traffic, cars spill onto city streets, which often dead end or wind through residential areas.
The more alternatives you have for that, the better, Swenson said.
The city is working on building a couple of major east-west connections between the freeway and highway, including a new 88th Street NE extension up Getchell Hill that should proceed soon, and others that are just dreams at this stage.
By planning for a new grid before the Whiskey Ridge area is built up, its cheaper, creates a more logical road plan and its on somebody elses dime as developers are required to provide right of way and to improve the roads as part of the projects.
Were living with some of those issues currently, Swenson said. What we have recommended is a network. Were not relying on just one or two roads.
The city is not bound by the planning commissions decisions, which are recommendations to the City Council, the final authority.