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Mville chats up Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber

ARLINGTON An embassy from Marysville met the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce last week to explain how the tale of two cities doesnt have to end in a knot, that is, a mess of tangled roads.
Marysville officials have gotten an earful from that citys residents over clogged roads laden with cars bound for or returning from the many new retail projects that have sprouted there. So representatives from the public works department met March 13 with the newly combined chamber to review projects on the drawing boards that could help both Arlington and Marysville deal with traffic that will only increase for decades to come.
Theres been a lot of coordination between the two jurisdictions, said Kevin Nielsen, assistant director of the Marysville Public Works Department, adding that city boundaries are irrelevant. Traffic really doesnt know city limits; cars dont know where one city stops and another city starts.
Nielsen outlined a $180 million wish list of transportation projects, much of it unfunded. Most important to the noon crowd at the Hawthorn Inn conference room were tweaks to 172nd Street NE near the new Lakewood Crossing shopping center, where about 13,000 new daily car trips have been generated, with only two of the main tenants open so far. Eventually 14 retailers will draw up to 28,000 new trips per day, and when the new Arlington Wal-Mart opens another 12,800 daily trips will be added to the mix.
Residents near the new Costco and Target have been furious and have unloaded on Nielsen and his peers at similar meetings. He said the good news is that the free right turn from eastbound 172nd to the I-5 southbound on-ramp will be re-instated, and soon. The Washington State Department of Transportation removed the right-hand drop lane when the new six-lane bridge was finished last year, and Marysville has taken the heat for the move. Nielsen got a big laugh when he showed a scrap of WSDOT letterhead promising the new lane. He previously told residents of a nearby housing development that the work would be done in about two months.
Were really close to that deadline and I want to make that happen, Nielsen said, stressing Lakewood Crossing owner Powell Development will be paying for the work.
The main point Nielsen made was that every street or freeway interchange is connected, like a series of links. If the 116th Street off-ramp on the interstate is backed up, people will drive north to 172nd; if Smokey Point Boulevard is clogged drivers cut over to 51st Avenue NE or 67th Avenue NE.
Its just a domino effect when you look at traffic impacts, Nielsen said.
Many of the items on Marysvilles 2007 Transportation Improvement Plan affect both cities. Fifty-first Avenue is tagged to eventually be a new north-south route from 172nd Street and parts north all the way south to hook up with SR 528 near the heart of Marysville. Likewise 43rd Avenue should be extended, though not so far south, and 67th Avenue NE will be rebuilt and resurfaced by the county from 108th Street NE to 152nd Street NE, although not widened, according to current plans. A roundabout at 63rd Avenue could also help traffic flow.
What that does is take pressure off of the interchange thats why its all connected, Nielsen said.
Thats why coordination needs to take place between jurisdictions, Nielsen emphasized, noting the communication between Arlington, Marysville, Snohomish County, the Tulalip Tribes and WSDOT.
Thats not always easy. While the city decides where to put a new
$5 million bridge over the railroad about a mile south of Lakewood Crossing, an easy fix for traffic leaving the mall would be a slip ramp onto southbound I-5 from Twin Lakes Boulevard south of Gissberg Twin Lakes Park. That would only cost $1 million in construction costs and could be completed quickly, but the federal government would require three years and $1 million of paperwork before they could start.
The problem is that the federal highways dont like you to just do stuff, Nielsen said.
In the meantime new work on the northwest quadrant of the 172nd Street interchange will allow cars eastbound in the right-hand lane of 172nd to loop around to an on-ramp to the southbound freeway.
The stacking here will decrease, Nielsen said.
At the other end of 172nd, the state will build a new $8.4 million intersection with SR 9 by 2011. Many other projects were listed and they all swing on the same fulcrum: money.
Marysvilles chief administrative officer Mary Swenson noted that Mayor Dennis Kendall was in Washington, D.C. twisting arms for money, and she urged the business leaders to write their legislators because it paid off last year. City officials had to elbow their way to the RTID trough to ensure their projects got a fair deal.
We really did not fare well on the preliminary list, Swenson said. The staff of all these jurisdictions are being very noisy. We are tired of all the money going to south county.
Arlingtons city administrator noted that Mayor Margaret Larson was also back east in the nations Capitol, pleading the cause.
Cathy Fullerton is a Stanwood resident who works as a realtor with the 360 Home Comprehensive Real Estate office in Arlington, so she was interested in knowing about plans for the 172nd Street interchange.
Its encouraging to know that there are several different plans in place, although it doesnt sound like theres anything immediate, Fullerton said.

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