Marysville project could help traffic avoid train waits

MARYSVILLE ­— A long-term project that will ultimately alleviate some of Marysville’s downtown traffic backups will take a step forward this month.

Traffic flow downtown is hampered by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line that cuts through the heart of the city. All the local streets downtown cross it at grade, leading to major backups whenever a freight train rolls through town.

Key to untangling that mess is where I-5 and Highway 529 meet just south of downtown. The idea is to rebuild the interchange, making it possible for northbound traffic on I-5 to enter town on Highway 529, bypassing the railroad tracks.

The current on- and offramps in the interchange only serve traffic going across Steamboat Slough and the Snohomish River to and from north Everett. The Fourth Street exit off I-5 drops traffic just west of the tracks, and a long train can keep traffic backed up all the way onto the freeway.

The city has budgeted $1.5 million this year for an initial design and planning proposal for the interchange project, Chief Administrative Officer Gloria Hirashima said.

That money, plus another $500,000 provided by Snohomish County, will fund the initial design work.

Mayor Jon Nehring highlighted the project in his State of the City speech last week, pointing out that the city would be able to take that preliminary plan to the state or federal government to get money to build the full interchange.

While it is still too early to put a price tag on the project, similar types of interchange expansion projects run in the $35 million to $40 million range, Hirashima said.

The City Council is expected to award a contract for the work to Bellevue-based engineering firm HDR Inc., probably this month, Hirashima said.

Over the longer term, the city also plans to investigate two other interchanges on I-5 for possible changes.

The main downtown interchange to Fourth Street needs improving, Hirashima said, and traffic backups there are also a contributor to downtown congestion.

The second location is where 156th St. NE crosses over I-5 near the north end of the city. The city’s Smokey Point Master Plan would transform 675 acres of agricultural land east of the overpass into a commercial and light industrial manufacturing center that could provide 10,000 new jobs to the region.

Transforming the overpass into a full interchange would improve access to the area and reduce the amount of traffic on 172nd Street NE that development is expected to bring.

“We’re very dependent on I-5 to move people back and forth, so we’re interested in working with the state to talk about improving interchanges,” Hirashima said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

A wobbly calf grows into a 1,800-pound Lake Stevens behemoth

A shaggy and sometimes cranky bison is the last of his herd. He lives amid encroaching suburbia.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Officials ID man shot and killed in apparent Everett robbery

Police believe the victim may have known the shooter, who drove away before the officers arrived.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

Missing Marysville woman found safe out of state

A Marysville senior who was reported missing in March has… Continue reading

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Front Porch

EVENTS Seahawks event postponed A Toys for Tots Blue Friday fundraiser that… Continue reading

Man arrested in Monroe Walmart robbery; second suspect flees

The pair fled in a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer with a distinctive green spray paint job.

Dead boy’s ‘gentle giant’ uncle helped search, then confessed

Andrew Henckel, 19, of Texas, said he planned the drowning of Dayvid Pakko, 6. His bail is $1 million.

Most Read