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Airport Blvd. work begins
ARLINGTON — Construction is underway at the Arlington Municipal Airport on a north-south road to alleviate traffic congestion in Smokey Point and to provide an avenue to potential new business in the area.
Jim Kelly, public works director for the city of Arlington, explained that the first phase of construction on what will become Airport Boulevard should be complete by the end of September, with an eye toward starting the second phase early next year, so that the road can be open during the summer of 2013.
“It was always pitched as a two-phase project, that would be phased according to the availability of the grants,” said Kelly, who praised his staff for securing $452,485 in grant funds from the Puget Sound Regional Council in 2010, enough to add a 3,400-foot extension of 51st Avenue NE, currently a limited-access road, into the Arlington Airport, north of 172nd Street NE, a.k.a. State Route 531. The Phase I installations, by Reece Trucking & Excavating, will include construction of new roadway, curbs, sidewalks, trails, utility extensions and a low-impact design storm water drainage system.
According to Kelly, Phase II has received $1,812,000 in grant funding, which will allow the new three-lane commercial road to connect 188th and 172nd streets NE.
“This will help ease the pressure on 172nd Street, particularly the intersection of 172nd Street and Smokey Point Boulevard,” Kelly said. “By providing another north-south road, not everyone will need to use that same intersection right off I-5. It’ll even includes a 12-foot-wide paved pedestrian trail, that will connect up with the airport trail.”
The new Airport Boulevard is also planned to serve as the primary access into the proposed Airport Business Park, which would be a 124,000-square-foot light industrial and commercial center.
“We’ve already got interest in this area from a number of businesses,” said Kelly, who expects that new hangars and perhaps even an aviation museum or two could pop up along the road. The construction of Airport Boulevard itself will be used to promote the development of the Arlington Business Park and other commercial projects in the area, as well as to facilitate the creation of jobs around the Arlington Municipal Airport.
The Airport Business Park would provide approximately 124,000 square feet of buildings for research and development, technical support offices, manufacturing and light manufacturing, and aviation uses along the flight line. As for the Airport Boulevard itself, it’s a fully designed project that’s received National Environmental Policy Act approval from the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Local Programs
“Along with the 173rd Street project, which is a three-phase project that’s being designed this year to hopefully start construction next year, Airport Boulevard is part of the city of Arlington’s efforts to embrace multimodal transportation systems,” Kelly said. “Not only should it ease the current choke points, but it’s designed to be accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists as well as cars.”