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Murray gets schooled on county needs - Mayors from 20 cities cite road and transit deficits
MARYSVILLE United States Senator Patty Murray asked for an earful last week and she got it: mayors and top executives from more than 20 Snohomish County cities explained the challenges and opportunities they face.
The three-term senator lives on Whidbey Island and she told the
Oct. 5 gathering that she wanted to hear from the people on the ground getting yelled every day.
Snohomish County was always my backyard growing up, Murray told the group at the Marysville City Council chambers. Its amazing the changes that have occurred.
The change on everybodys mind was growth, which means traffic, which is interpreted as the need for more roads and transit options. They hit this note again and again. For cities as far apart as Mukilteo to Sultan, the top bullet point was the transportation grid. Mayor Dennis Kendall of Marysville warned Murray that everyone sitting at the roundtable will have needs, but no one has the money. Like many others, he stressed that cities, the county and other agencies were working together to create transportation corridors that benefit more than just one city or town.
What happens on Highway 2 and what happens on the trestle affects everybody in the county, Kendall said, adding that healthcare and prescription drug coverage is another need.
The transportation issues really bind us together, echoed Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson, who explained how the transfer of development rights from farmlands to uplands was opening up more building areas to developers. Were going to double our population and we need the infrastructure.
Lake Stevens Mayor Lynn Walty echoed those concerns, noting the rapidly changing nature of a once rural corridor along SR 9 near his stomping grounds.
Mass transit is also important to our region, Walty said. Whether we like it or not.
Walty said that the U.S. military identified SR 9 as an alternative north-south route during the war and said it should be improved to four lanes, all the way.
His second and third concerns were SR 9 and U.S. 2, but he noted bitterly his number one beef that the Hewitt Avenue trestle ends at the Urban Growth Area boundary. That supports a ton of traffic every night, Walty said
Everett City Councilman Paul Roberts noted that most of the trestle wasnt in his city limits but its effects were felt in the countys largest city, no doubt.
We just see the other side of what youve heard, Roberts told Murray. Besides reducing fossil fuel use, he wanted to see more mass transit development. We seem to be just out of reach.
Edmonds City Council Member Peggy Pritchard Olson piled onto Roberts ideas, adding the need for multi-modal combinations of mass transit options such as the ferry system that runs through her town combined with light rail, trains and busses.
Other concerns were the need for emergency radio bandwidth for smaller cities like Mill Creek and the connectivity concerns under the Department of Homeland Security aegis. A federal exemption for sales taxes lapsed recently and Murray told the leaders that Washington state is one of eight working to get it reinstated.
Snohomish Mayor Randy Hamlin noted that transit, as it is right now, is not workable for people like him. He works in Bothell and said it would take him 120 minutes to travel the 14 miles to work from his Snohomish home via bus connections through Everett, Lynnwood and Bothell. Murray noted that as a kid she used to ride her bike to Snohomish.
Youd get there faster, quipped Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine.
Hamlin lamented that new federal standards mean his citys 10-year-old sewage treatment plant is no longer up to snuff. Snohomish must upgrade the plant due to clean water regulations and raising rates would threaten seniors on fixed incomes; according to him they are already at the edge of leaving due to utility rates. Hamlin said his town was applying for grants to help pay for the upgrades but got a laugh from his peers when he said that grant money was like throwing food into a fish tank and the mayors are the fish.
Murray said it was good to hear from the leaders and urged them to continue to work together. An agreement from them on the regions top three priorities would help secure federal help, according to Murray.
It really does help when everyone goes together on a project, Murray told Monroe Mayor Donetta Walser, who complained about U.S. 2 backing up in her town during deadly accidents.