Curbing has made Smokey Point safer

Tom Hughs of Arlington writes: A few years ago, curbs were installed down the middle of 172nd Street NE (Highway 531) in Smokey Point from I-5 to 43rd Avenue NE to prevent left turns onto 172nd. Has there been enough time to collect data showing the reduction in accidents?

Bronlea Mishler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: The centerline curbing that restricts left turns onto 172nd was installed as part of three separate projects. The first two were completed at roughly the same time, in September 2006, in which curbing was installed from I-5 east to near Smokey Point Boulevard. The third project was completed about a year-and-a-half ago and installed curbing between Smokey Point Boulevard and 43rd.

We do have before-and-after comparisons for the first two segments of curb, but we don’t have data yet for the third section. For those first two sections of curbing, the data shows a significant drop in the number of driveway- and turning-related collisions.

In the three years before September 2006, there were 95 collisions; for the three years after September 2006, there were only 27 collisions. That’s a decrease of more than 70 percent in driveway and turning-related collisions. In addition, the overall rate of all types of collisions between I-5 and Smokey Point Boulevard has decreased by 27 percent.

So the short answer is yes, the curbing has helped reduce the number of collisions on Highway 531.

Virginia Henrickson of Arlington writes: I am wondering when 172nd Street NE (Highway 531) will be fixed east of the new Walmart. Driving west from the railroad tracks at 67th Avenue NE is like driving an obstacle course to keep from hitting the holes because of the heavy traffic in the area.

Mishler responds: We agree that the roadway needs a more permanent fix, but there currently is no money available to pave this section of highway.

We plan to seek funding during the next legislative session. Until the work is funded, our maintenance crews will keep a close eye on the road and will make repairs as needed to smooth out the ride for drivers.

We do have a project coming up next summer to install a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 531 and Highway 9: That project will include some paving of Highway 531 near the intersection. For more information, go to

Short green light

A question-and-answer from last week’s column drew a response from several readers.

Lloyd Brodniak of Everett wrote that the northbound green light on Highway 527 (19th Avenue SE) at El Capitan Way and the I-5 offramp in the Eastmont neighborhood of Everett is often extremely short, leaving long lines at the intersection. State Department of Transportation engineers checked the light and say it’s working properly.

Readers, however, have their own theories.

Matt Kayla of Eastmont writes: I have lived in this area 20 years and use that intersection daily. If the left-turn lane from southbound Highway 527 to El Capitan Way is empty, and a car pulls in, the northbound light will immediately turn yellow and then red. It doesn’t matter if one car or 20 have passed through the northbound light, it will turn from green to red every time. I guarantee it! Have the DOT meet me and Lloyd there anytime.

Cathy Peterson of Eastmont writes: I believe I know why the light on 19th Avenue SE at El Capitan Way is green for so short a time. A homeless man who stands on the corner to ask for money pushes the crosswalk button. He doesn’t do it to cross the street but to stop traffic. I have seen him do this all summer long. Because of the cold weather, he doesn’t seem to be there as often or as long right now.

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