Lakewood Crossing overpass should ease traffic

MARYSVILLE — Moving in and out of the Lakewood Crossing shopping center could soon get easier for drivers.

A new two-lane overpass at 156th Street NE is scheduled to open Friday, said Gloria Hirashima, city administrator. The bridge connects Smokey Point Boulevard east of the freeway with Twin Lakes Avenue and commercial areas to the west. The $13 million project provides a second access point for the shopping area, which now is accessible only from 27th Avenue NE and 172nd Street.

“There’s still some little things that need to be done, but at this point we’re just focusing on getting the road open,” Hirashima said. “The whole point was to get the road open before the holiday season began.”

The Lakewood Crossing shopping center was built in 2006 on the south side of 172nd at the intersection of 27th Avenue NE.

The city was petitioned by property owners to form a local improvement district to fund the overpass. The public-private partnership was approved in 2010 by the Marysville City Council. Residential and commercial property owners in the district, covering about a 2 1/2-square-mile area on both sides of I-5, are to fund half of the overpass project through assessments while the city pays for the other half.

Each property owner was given an estimate on how much it would likely cost them, Hirashima said. The final cost won’t be determined until after all the bills on the new overpass are tallied.

A 2009 analysis of the area cites projected traffic volume across the new bridge of approximately 6,000 vehicles per day, said Pat Gruenhagen, city project manager.

“I’d consider the figure to still be representative of what we anticipate in the near term,” he said. “One of the key, anticipated benefits of the project is a lessening of the present burden on the Smokey Point freeway interchange to the north, at 172nd, as people become accustomed to using the new crossing at 156th.”

The project included construction of new surface streets, sanitary sewers and water mains, as well as a new traffic signal at 156th Street NE and Smokey Point Boulevard. Renton-based Guy F. Atkinson Construction in June 2011 was awarded a $9.79 million contract to build the overpass. Construction work so far is under budget at $9.46 million and is ahead of the contract schedule, Gruenhagen said.

“For this project, they had until the end of January next year to get things done,” he said. “The city has been very pleased with this contract. They’ve been good to work with.”

The bridge opening is exciting, said Peter Powell, president of Powell Development Co., the Lakewood Crossing project contractor.

“We’ve been waiting with bated breath,” he said. “It’s going to be a win-win for everybody. You’re not going to have congestion on 172nd, and we should also have better sales for the (Lakewood Crossing) tenants and more tax revenue for the city.”

JoAnn DeLazzari, who lives in Crystal Tree Village, a mobile-home park on 25th Avenue NE, attended city meetings about the project as the local improvement district was formed. She wasn’t supportive of the overpass then and still doesn’t believe it will help solve traffic congestion in and around the shopping area.

“I still don’t think it’s going to be effective for the cost,” said DeLazzari, 64. “That bridge, without having access to the freeway, it just breaks my heart. I just don’t see the real usability of this bridge for a great deal of people.”

The overpass is planned to be converted into an interchange with access to and from I-5 in the future, Gruenhagen said. That project is unfunded and requires approval from the state Department of Transportation and the federal Highway Administration.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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