By Bill Sheets, Herald Writer
GRANITE FALLS — Work on the planned bypass road to the north around downtown Granite Falls can begin next year, thanks to a $10 million, low-interest loan from the state.
Snohomish County can start on the 2.1-mile, $32.6 million bypass route in early 2009 and finish in the fall of 2010, officials said. Before the loan was obtained last week, the start date was uncertain.
Kristi Everett, a real estate agent with Signature Properties NW located downtown, is glad to hear the news.
“I like the fact the big trucks are going to be diverted around town,” Everett said. While she sympathizes with property owners along the route who will be affected, “rocks are being spit up on our cars. At 4 o’clock, we’re backed all the way up.”
Getting that truck traffic out of town is a big reason for the bypass. A 2002 study found that more than 1,000 trucks a day, many of them carrying rock from nearby quarries, were going through town on the highway, according to the county.
By 2005, that number had doubled to 2,000 trucks, carrying 6 million tons of gravel. Reduced pedestrian safety, noise and exhaust have been byproducts.
The bypass will consist of a 2-lane, 2.1-mile newly constructed road, stretching from Highway 92 west of Jordan Road, and connect with Mountain Loop Highway north of Gun Club Road. Three roundabouts are planned along the route.
With the loan, the county will have $29 million from the state, federal and local governments in hand for the project, leaving only $3.5 million to be raised.
The bypass will be good for truckers, said Joe Packard, who runs his own trucking business out of his home in Getchell Hill. “And it’ll help the town out,” too, he said.
The bypass right-of-way cuts a swath through loosely populated residential areas and farms. Last year, several property owners hired an attorney to protest the offers they received from the county.
The attorney, Bruce Galloway of Lake Stevens, said his clients have now all settled without having to go to trial. His clients received anywhere from 40 percent to 300 percent more than the county was offering before, he said. The range was confirmed by Joe Bennett, an Edmonds attorney working for the county on the cases.
Of the pieces of property that need to be bought for the project, deals have been struck for 23 while 25 remain, said Art Louie, engineering services director for the county.
The county has set a deadline of November for itself to complete the acquisitions.
“It’s going to be tight, but we’re confident we can make it,” Louie said.
Mayor Lyle Romack welcomed the news of the loan.
“I’m thrilled,” he said. “This is just the thing we needed to get our project completed.”