Opinion

Traffic hurt will get worse without Prop 1 passage

by Eric Earling

This years election gives voters the chance to approve Proposition 1, a long overdue opportunity to improve transportation gridlock in our communities.
Residents of Arlington, Marysville, Lake Stevens, Snohomish, Monroe and related parts of Snohomish County are all too aware of the effects of rapid population growth. Roads are more congested. Commutes are longer. And transportation improvements havent kept up.
As a life-long resident of Snohomish County, Im all too familiar with such problems. Theres a huge amount of blame to go around for those failures, but voters have a chance to begin to correct that now.
The list of long-overdue roads projects is a key reason to vote yes on Proposition 1. Essential among those improvements are new general-purpose lanes and safety improvement on Highway 9. Anyone living near that traffic corridor even anyone with family or friends in the area knows full well what a brutal grind the daily commute up and down that road can be. The Propositions improvements on Highway 9, all the way between Clearview and Lake Stevens, are incredibly important.
Another critical road project is the completion of a larger and safer Highway 522 between I-405 and Monroe, including a revamped intersection at Paradise Lake Road. This thoroughfare has long been a dangerous stretch of road, in addition to being a difficult drive between the rapidly growing Monroe area and East King County. Completion of those improvements would be an important step in the quality of life in surrounding communities.
Highway 2 is yet another congestion nightmare getting attention in Proposition 1. Improved vehicle capacity on the trestle, expanded interchanges where Highway 2 meets I-5, and a bypass to keep traffic moving without clogging up downtown Monroe are all important parts of this road building plan.
Additional projects of interest include widening Highway 531 in Arlington, improving the I-5 interchange at 116th Street NE, and dramatic improvements on 88th Street NE including expanding 88th Street itself while upgrading its interchange with I-5.
Clearly, there are a lot of reasons to vote yes on Proposition 1. Another helpful point for residents north of Everett and east of the I-5 corridor and Mill Creek is that the taxes collected for these road projects go just to that, roads improvements. None of the taxes collected in this area will go toward Sound Transit, which remains an issue for people in the southwest part of the county and Everett to deal with.
Let me repeat that because its an important point. The way this election works, voters approving Proposition 1 in northern and eastern parts of Snohomish County are saying yes to long overdue roads projects. Theyre not paying a dime for transit projects in other areas, including light rail in King County.
Besides the necessary roads projects and besides the fact Sound Transit is not part of the proposal citizens in Arlington, Marysville, Lake Stevens, Snohomish and Monroe will be voting on, theres another important reason to act now. If Proposition 1 fails, well have to rely on state government in Olympia to fix these problems.
Thats not good. The Legislature and various Governors have dithered for years on transportation. Weve got the gridlock to prove it. The roads portion of Proposition 1 was created by a committee of the County Councils of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, with our own Snohomish County representatives playing a key role in working to make sure the roads projects we have the chance to approve were included in the package.
I bet you share my belief that a yes vote for road improvements is a better option than punting the issue back to Olympia for more years of pointless debate and inaction. These roads projects are long overdue. I hope youll join me in voting yes on Proposition 1.
Eric Earling is a life-long resident of Snohomish County. He has served as Vice Chairman of the Countys Charter Review Commission and as a member of the County Executives Priorities Based Budgeting Guidance Team.

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