The Herald of Everett, Washington
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Street Smarts
January 29  |  By Melissa Slager, Herald writer
As we were driving down the interstate the other day, a plastic bag flew out of a truck bed. It ballooned and bobbed through the air like a nonchalant little ghost over the roofs of speeding vehicles.

From the back seat, I heard my 7-year-old gasp. "Pollution!"

These dark, cold days have us seeing more and more litter on roadsides, when most organized clean-up programs are on a seasonal break.

Joyce Lewis of Camano Island recently drove...

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January 26  |  
Clearly there is a lot to be done on our state roads. Recent blog posts here on Street Smarts about Snohomish County wish-list items, such as a long-sought westbound U.S. 2 trestle, are mere potholes in a vast road map of discontent.

But there's not...

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January 26  |  By Melissa Slager
Is the price tag for a new U.S. 2 trestle too big? In a question to readers about your most dreaded intersection, the three-way chokepoint where U.S. 2, Highway 204 and 20th Street all converge elicited the most groans — groans we've been hearing here at Street Smarts for several ... years ... now.

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January 25  |  
Karen Hart of Clearview asked when the next phase of the Highway 9 widening project will resume. The state project most recently wrapped up widening the highway from 212th Street SE to 176th Street SE.The highway now has three lanes until just north of 180th Street SE, “which creates a huge jam-up of cars and almost daily accidents as it becomes the old two lanes,” Hart notes. “Is this going to be fixed any time soon?”

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January 18  |  
Want to have a say on toll rates for the future I-405 HOT lanes coming this fall?

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January 15  |  By Melissa Slager
Marilyn de Soto of Snohomish noted a problem on 180th Street SE between 35th Avenue SE and Sunset Road, just east of Mill Creek in unincorporated Snohomish County.

"There are no lines on the shoulder where signs caution ‘dropoff'; also the middle line is not complete," she said. "A lot of road work has been done here with tearing up, then repaving, but it appears that it is not complete."

She said she hoped the lines would be...

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January 14  |  
You’re driving down the road late at night, and the signal in front of you turns yellow. You slow and stop. Then you notice that the cross street, just given the green, is a veritable ghost town. Not even a glimmer of headlights. Oh, come on!If you’ve ever been in that situation, you’ll sympathize with our next Q-and-A reader.

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January 13  |  
It’s playoffs season, but this tailgating discussion is no party.“This is more than a pet peeve for me. It makes me very angry: tailgaters,” said Gail Love of Marysville. “It doesn’t make any difference if I’m on the freeway or in town. There is always someone on my rear bumper. They risk my safety and those around me as well as their own. The two-second rule needs to be learned by all of these rude, dangerous drivers.”

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January 12  |  
Sue VanDlac of Everett, who works in Bothell, said red-light runners also are a problem at Bothell-Everett Highway and 220th Street SE. “I know of several people who have been in traffic accidents there,” she said, noting at least three fender-benders in as many years, often during the morning commute or lunch rush.

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January 7  |  
Sue VanDlac dreads the intersection of Casino Road and Evergreen Way. “Drivers often run red or block the intersection. I’ve gotten so I go different streets to avoid it,” she said.The proximity of this intersection to Highway 526 (Boeing Freeway) doesn’t make things easier, particularly during peak hours when a large number of drivers try to get on eastbound 526.

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January 6  |  By Melissa Slager Herald writer
Just like spies, the A-team crew, or a crazed-looking professor blathering about time travel, traffic signals also must synchronize their watches.What happens when they don’t? Well, you get 88th Street in Marysville.A question from Marysville reader Kelly Gray about traffic light timing on westbound 88th Street led us to this drama in circuitry, with agents of allied traffic agencies at odds unawares...

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December 31  |  
Mark Liechty of Granite Falls shares a concern we’re familiar with here at Street Smarts — dedicated left-turn signals.

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December 30  |  
The Washington State Transportation Improvement Board awarded 73 street and sidewalk improvement grants to local agencies totaling $95.2 million at its Nov. 21 meeting in Everett. The grant funding comes from the revenue generated by 3 cents of the statewide gas tax dedicated by the Legislature for local agency grants.

Locally, Snohomish County and eight cities received grants.

The biggest grant is for $4 million toward a...

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December 23  |  By Melissa Slager Herald writer
While we’re on the topic of being prepared for hazardous weather on the road... Have you ever spun out on ice? I have, once. And once was enough.

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December 22  |  By Melissa Slager Herald writer
Not to be outdone by the likes of Jerry Cornfield or Community Transit, I give you my own holiday ditty — traffic edition.

"Black-Lined Christmas"
The sun is hiding, the sky is gray
The evergreens whip and sway
It's yet another black day
On I-5...

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December 18  |  
Gas prices have been dropping for weeks, coming in Dec. 16 at an average of $2.82 per gallon, 49 cents less than a year ago, according to AAA’s number-keepers.That could mean more holiday travelers on the road — or not.A record number of people are expected to hit the roads this holiday season, according to AAA.

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December 17  |  By Melissa Slager
What to put in an emergency car kit I'm terrible at this stuff. When I was a new mom, I was on top of things. I had diapers, food, blankets and water in the back of the car, ready for any emergency. The blankets are still there. I think there are some Barbie bandages in the glove box. And that's pretty much it for my emergency preparedness.

The latest Pemco Insurance Northwest Poll shows that 83 percent of drivers in Washington and Oregon carry at least one...

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December 16  |  
You’ve finished shopping at Snohomish Station, and now you’re trying to head back home across town.Good luck.Rick Simonsen of Snohomish relates what is drudgery for many rush-hour drivers near the popular shopping complex as they drive east on 30th Street and reach (or try to reach) Highway 9.“At times, during busy shopping days, that light can back traffic up clear to Bickford Avenue,” he said. A nearby school and its accompanying busy pick-up times doesn’t help.

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December 15  |  
You’ve meticulously wrapped gifts for relatives with that cool new method you found on YouTube — and then you reach security at the airport.

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December 12  |  By Melissa Slager
Judy Gregerson of Everett says Highway 99 (Evergreen Way) at Airport Road has got to be one of the worst intersections in the county.

"I avoid that intersection like the plague," she said.

For good reason. She was rear-ended there twice in incidents 10 years apart.

"You will notice that there are multiple, deep skid marks all over the road" on northbound Highway 99 from the Poulsbo RV dealership two-tenths of a mile south to...

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December 12  |  
Washington State Ferries now takes reservations for travel to the San Juan Islands. Reservations can be made now for travel starting Jan. 5. It’s a nice way to avoid lines. More than 1,700 reservations have already been made for the winter season. Make reservations online at

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December 11  |  
A couple of Street Smarts readers have asked if any changes are coming to the intersection of 228th Street SE and Bothell-Everett Highway. Backups there are a routine problem, particularly at the left-turn light from eastbound 228th to northbound on Highway...

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December 10  |  
A Lynnwood project to adjust traffic lights along Highway 99 and 196th Street SW, also known as Highway 524, to ease congestion and reduce driving times is still in the works.

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December 9  |  
Robert Casteel of Lynnwood travels south on North Road a couple times each week and had become frustrated by the timing on the light at 164th Street SW.“The light cycle is way too short,” he wrote to tell me in late November. “No matter how quickly I react the light will allow no more than two cars, sometimes only one. It is quite frustrating being third in line and knowing I won’t be able to get through the light. Can this cycle be adjusted?”Yes, it can. And yes, they did.

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December 8  |  By Melissa Slager Herald writer
The results are in, and the Worst Parking Lot in Snohomish County dishonors go to the Trader Joe's complex on Everett Mall Way.

It wasn't even close.

Frontier Village in Lake Stevens, the

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December 7  |  By Melissa Slager Herald writer
The sound of rainshakers from the car next to me reminded me it's studded tire season.

Studded tires are legal for use between Nov. 1 and March 31 in our state. But that doesn't mean the state wants you to use them.

In fact, the Washington State Transportation Commission every year recommends that the governor and Legislature ban studded tires (a previous ban was lifted in 1969).

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December 5  |  By Melissa Slager
Ida Nelson dreads the four-way stop near her home in Edmonds at 238th Street SW and 84th Avenue W, where she says drivers seem to routinely ignore the stop signs.

"I fear to cross the street to get my mail since cars come around the corner of 238th and 84th without so much as a pause, certainly not a legal stop, which causes me to run in order to get out of their way," Nelson said.

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December 4  |  
I continue to get nominations for the worst intersection in Snohomish County. Mary, from Everett, said she most dreads the intersection of 41st Street and Rucker Avenue, where drivers seem to routinely run red lights.

Everett nixed red-light cameras, which would specifically address this complaint. "However, within a few years this intersection will have some upgrades, including a larger westbound...

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December 3  |  
Jo Clark of Everett writes: "I have a question about an intersection. On 75th Street, heading west at Evergreen Way, traffic backs up for left turns almost every light cycle during the day. There is no left-turn arrow. If someone from the opposite direction is waiting to turn left, it's very difficult to see if other cars are coming up to the intersection since the waiting car blocks the view. There are also usually pedestrians crossing Evergreen and so you have to watch for...

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November 28  |  
Richard Dittenberger of Arlington wonders if the state will make changes to signage in order to make it easier for motorists to know which lane they need to be in to get on I-5 south from 172nd Street NE (Highway 531) in Smokey Point. That ramp is a right turn onto a loop ramp. Until the new interchange was completed in 2009, it had been a left-hand turn onto the southbound on-ramp.

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