Arlington's 67th Ave. project nears completion | SLIDESHOW

ARLINGTON — The 67th Avenue Final Phase Project is itself in its final phases, as construction crews work to complete the remaining infrastructure on the street, its sidewalks and its intersections.

“We’ve got two operational lanes now,” Project Manager Eric Scott said.

“That’s asphalt on all lanes,” said Bill Blake, who serves as the city’s project liaison. “No more gravel roads.”

Construction crews are still installing the sidewalks and driveways on the east side of 67th Avenue, after weather challenges in December and January caused the delays of cement and paving work that the city had expected to complete by the end of 2013.

“We’re still on time and on budget, though,” said Blake, who expects that both the roadway and Centennial Trail will be complete by this summer. “The railroad crossing work should be done by the end of March, which will allow people to get across it in a safe manner, unlike now, where there’s no clear walkway.”

“And instead of testing out your shock absorbers on those timbers, the new railroad crossing will have a much smoother ride of concrete,” Scott said.

Blake and Scott added that the road improvements will even improve a new plaza, just across the street from the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Hall and Museum, featuring benches, garbage cans and art preserved in concrete, from foliage impressions to the winners of this year’s haiku contest at the Arlington-Stillaguamish Eagle Festival.

“A lot of our construction workers come from Arlington, so they take pride in this project,” Blake said.

Scott praised Blake for his public outreach on this project, from keeping the community informed to working with local businesses and property owners.

“The landowners have been very understanding,” Blake said. “When we restore their property, we can’t recreate the exact details of how it was, but those folks have allowed us to make it as good, and even better than, it was before. We want to improve their yards and businesses, and help them function better.”

The paving work needs to be completed before the light poles can be installed, which Scott predicts will likewise happen this spring.

“We’ve also got the final layer left of asphalt, to bring it up to the bottom of the curb, which should also be able to be laid down this spring,” Scott said. “There’s a gap of about three inches between the asphalt and the bottom of the curb right now.”

That final asphalt lift is expected to take two days, and should account for the last of this project’s big delays, according to Blake. Indeed, to make things more convenient for motorists, Blake and Scott suggested they might lay down the asphalt at night.

“This will all have a big impact on the heart of Arlington,” Scott said.

“It’s been interesting,” chuckled Gene Abel, owner of Ted’s Custom Upholstery, one of the businesses on 67th Ave. “But it hasn’t been all that bad. Sure, it’s slowed things down, but from now on, things are going to be awesome. This will be a boon to the entire economy of Arlington. It definitely needed to be done, but I can’t wait for it to be done,” he laughed again.

While Abel did find road construction to be a challenge occasionally, especially on those few days when he couldn’t get out of his own parking lot, Greg Taylor of Arlington RV & Welding Supply was even more sanguine about the street improvements.

“It hasn’t really impacted us too much,” Taylor said. “The city has worked with us to keep our ingress and egress open as much as possible. It will be pretty nice when it’s all done.”

William “Hubb” Hubbell, owner of Hubb’s Pizza, echoed Taylor’s positive assessment of the city’s efforts.

“This city has been as good of a partner as we could have hoped for,” Hubbell said. “This sort of construction work is never fun, but in the long run, it’s going to be better for everyone. I would have loved if we could have had fewer lane closures, but unfortunately, that’s just not the reality of the situation. The city was very good at communicating when those closures would occur.”

Hubbell declined to speculate on the impact of construction to his business, and instead expressed optimism for the near future.

“I want to thank all of our customers who drove through the construction to come dine with us,” Hubbell said. “When it comes to the difficulties of construction, it is what it is, but we expect our business will come back to where it was.”

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