Cracked windows frustrate drivers

Mark Thacker isn’t the only driver out there who thinks somebody should pay to fix windshields cracked by rocks that flew off I-5 during fall paving in Everett.

Thacker got frustrated when a $300 damage claim was passed from the state Department of Transportation to contractor Atkinson CH2M Hill to subcontractor Rinker Materials, and then was denied.

Many of the other 62 people who had their windshields dinged during that project wrote or called me, some asking for help, others just to vent.

Andrew Bry of Arlington had his claim passed through the state and Atkinson CH2M Hill before having Rinker deny it as well. He said he tried to talk Rinker managers into reconsidering, even offering to drive his vehicle down and show them the damage. The answer was a firm “no,” he said.

“Going nowhere, I contacted Atkinson, who said they had no control over how Rinker responds to claims,” Bry said. “At that point I was so frustrated at the situation I gave up, but with your article I feel empowered to give Rinker yet another call.”

Rinker couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The company turned down 27 claims from the ongoing I-5 Everett widening project in November. In a letter explaining the denial, the company said it had done everything it could to sweep up rocks off of the unpaved highway surface.

Atkinson CH2M Hill is reviewing all claims rejected by Rinker on a case-by-case basis, said Dave Doles, project manager for contractor Atkinson-CH2M Hill. He said his company has paid some claims and rejected others. He did not know how many of each.

Trish Ruis of Edmonds hopes that somebody changes their tune and pays the $600 it cost her to fix her windshield.

“It’s so frustrating,” she said. “I absolutely feel Mr. Thacker’s pain because these companies and the state are doing the exact same thing to me. If the construction companies had been cleaning up and doing their job we wouldn’t have had this problem.”

To his credit, Doles said his company works hard to keep the road free of rocks.

Turning onto Highway 9

Question: The intersection of Highway 9 and 56th Street SE is absolutely in need of improvement. Trying to turn either direction on Highway 9 from 56th Street during the afternoon is an exercise in futility. If you make it by the third light cycle, then you got through ‘quickly.’

A large commercial development is under construction just to the east of this intersection, potentially adding thousands of additional cars. The city of Snohomish made the builder assess traffic revisions on Bickford Avenue and supposedly sent an impact assessment to the state.

The city apparently determined that the new shopping center will have little impact on traffic. I don’t agree. It concerns me nothing is being done to fix the intersection.

Answer: We have no record of receiving a traffic impact analysis before work on that project started. Eventually we reviewed the project and sent recommendations to the city, but the deadline for suggesting improvements had long passed.

We share the reader’s concerns about the effects of increased traffic in this area, both at the intersection of Highway 9 and 56th Street SE, and at the intersection of U.S. 2 and Bickford Avenue. We will continue to work with the city to look for low-cost improvements we can make to reduce congestion and keep drivers safe in this busy area.

Russ East, DOT assistant regional administrator

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