By Jon Nehring
The state legislature will be back in session Jan. 14. I am grateful that the city has excellent partnerships with our elected leaders in Olympia, and our community has benefited from state funding for several vital infrastructure projects. The City Council and I have been discussing our legislative priorities and have identified the following projects as the most-important ones for 2019:
•Public Safety Mental Health/Drug Treatment: Marysville’s embedded social worker program launched in early 2018 pairing a city police officer and a county social worker to provide resources and services to homeless people with addiction and/or mental health issues has been successful. We propose a two-year pilot program to support and expand that effort and to meet new legislative and judicial requirements. The city seeks $200,000 in state funding for this.
•Railroad Overcrossings: The city proposes an overcrossing on Grove Street from State to Cedar avenues over the BNSF railroad tracks to alleviate congestion and increase east-west connectivity. A 2015 study found this the most-suitable overcrossing location as it would not take away access to State Avenue or local business entrances, and would require minimal property acquisition. Total project cost is estimated at $24 million; the city seeks $1.53 million in state funding to complete the design phase. The city also wants to build a railroad overcrossing on 156th Street NE west of I-5. Together with the future I-5 interchange at 156th, this would provide efficient traffic flow for people traveling west of the freeway to housing and commercial developments. The city seeks $1 million in state funding to begin design work. As you may know, the new Interstate 5/Highway 529 interchange is fully funded with construction expected to begin in 2020. When it opens, it will provide the first grade-separated alternative for Marysville travelers to avoid train traffic. Adding new overcrossings at Grove Street and 156th Street would bring further relief with train-free road options in north, central and south Marysville.
•Arlington-Marysville Manufacturing Industrial Center: Marysville and Arlington have been working to secure official designation by the Puget Sound Regional Council to be recognized as a Regional Manufacturing Industrial Center. With relatively little developable land available in our region’s urban areas and strong demand for industrial spaces, the MIC’s nearly 1,800 developable acres offer an attractive asset for business development and expansion. It’s important that our state legislators embrace the MIC vision for family wage jobs and a regional jobs center here as we may call for their help with future infrastructure improvements and business incentives.
In the weeks ahead, city leadership will be discussing the importance of these projects with our elected representatives in Olympia. If you agree, please lend your support by contacting your state legislators at leg.wa.gov.
Jon Nehring is mayor of Marysville. His column runs the first Saturday of each month.