Traffic around new Marysville Walmart concerns reader

Brendan Stafford of Arlington writes: With construction of the new Walmart in Marysville, two new traffic lights were put up on 83rd Avenue NE, a light was installed at the entrance to the store and another at the intersection with Highway 9.

Why wasn’t the road between 83rd Avenue NE and Highway 9 widened to accommodate the traffic?

It’s a very short distance and seems to me it wouldn’t cost a lot of money to upgrade that section of road. Walmart could have paid for it. It seems that not widening the road with three traffic lights so close to each could turn into a nightmare.

Were there discussions during the approval process regarding how to move traffic through this area? Was there any talk of putting roundabouts at these intersections?

Jesse Hannahs, traffic engineer for the city of Marysville, responds: All the roadway improvements, including the traffic signals and street lighting, were installed at the expense of Walmart. This was a requirement based on the traffic expected to be generated by the development.

The city has the ability to require more extensive improvements only when a project causes traffic flow to fall below predetermined standards for that type of road or intersection.

Although it would have been ideal to widen Highway 528 to a five-lane road with sidewalks, the city could not require it because construction of the Walmart store did not cause traffic on the roadway to fall below the standard.

This project was heavily scrutinized and was appealed to Snohomish County Superior Court, where a judge upheld the decision. Given the topographic features of the area, expanded right-of-way needed for a roundabout and the decision regarding the traffic standard, roundabouts were not seriously considered.

Jim Weisenbach of Marysville writes: I am concerned about the traffic signal at the intersection of Smokey Point Boulevard and 128th Street NE. Traffic from C&D Zodiac (an aerospace manufacturer) uses the west side of 128th, and the eastern portion leads to a residential area.

That signal seems to have some very inconsistent timing cycles. Frequently on weekdays, the light will go red for Smokey Point Boulevard traffic when there are no cars waiting on either side of 128th. Finally, when a car approaches from the east, it seems to be given priority treatment, not even having to stop and wait for a cycle. The north-south traffic must stop when they don’t expect it.

I realize that some special treatment may be given to Zodiac workers as they leave at the end of the day, but why the residential traffic from the east?

At other times, the lights seem to be red for all four directions. Cars are stopped at all four points and no one moves for 30 seconds or more. No one is making left turns, no one is going straight across. Combine that with a Community Transit bus making stops at the rail crossing on Smokey Point Boulevard and other stops as well, and the northbound traffic can get backed up a long ways. We can’t blame that one on the coal trains.

Has someone programmed that light to behave that way, or is it acting up on its own?

Jesse Hannahs responds: The city of Marysville is planning upgrades to the signals at this intersection.

Changes to the video detection equipment were recently made to improve its accuracy in sensing cars and trucks.

With grant funding, the city has hired a consultant to design improvements at this intersection, including northbound and southbound flashing yellow left-turn arrows and further upgrades to vehicle detection.

These measures should improve operation of the signals at the intersection. Construction is tentatively scheduled for late next year.

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