By KATHY KORENGEL
GRANITE FALLS — Trucks hauling sand and gravel from surrounding quarries make an estimated 900 trips a day through this small city — past the high school and middle school.
Two proposed plans for alternate routes around the city, as well as general progress on an alternate route, will be the focus of a public meeting at 7 tonight at the Granite Falls Community Center, 101 E. Pioneer.
Construction of either route is estimated to take another 10 years.
City Councilman Matt Hartman, who has made building an alternate route a priority, said it’s time something be built to lessen the impacts of truck traffic on the city’s 2,000 residents.
"It’s only a matter of when, not if, a kid will be late for school and plow through the street and a … truck runs him over," Hartman said.
He also said he is concerned about truck noise and pollution.
In June, the council, after looking at a number of alternatives, approved an amendment to the comprehensive plan that designated a proposed two-mile alternate route.
Since then, the owners of property within the proposed route, the Perrigoue family, have offered a different alternative. Either proposed route runs through a 138-acre parcel owned by the Perrigoues.
Bruce Galloway, attorney for the Perrigoues, said the family suggested the new route, designated Alternate B or the northern route, for several reasons.
The northern route would follow the Jordan Road over a hill and down into the Stillaquamish River valley. It would bypass Mountain Way Elementary, which sits beside the southern route. Farther removed from city streets, it also would buffer the community more from truck noise, Galloway said.
The Perrigoues also prefer the northern route because it is zoned for a lower-density housing development than the southern route, said Ann Perrigoue, who also sits on the city’s planning commission. Perrigoue has to excuse herself from the commission in deliberations concerning her own property.
The southern route is on top of "$2 million of prime real estate," Galloway said, adding that the Perrigoues were not able to include the land in a pending sale because of its designation as the alternate route in the city’s comprehensive plan.
Ron Cameron, an engineer for the firm Gray & Osborne Inc., which is involved in a pre-design review of the alternate route, said the northern route has several drawbacks.
He said the biggest difference is the amount of fill dirt needed. Because the northern route would go over a steep hill it would require seven times as much dirt to be moved: 700,000 cubic yards compared with 100,000 cubic yards for the southern route.
Cameron also said the northern route would flow closer to the Stillaquamish River, resulting in a "significant amount more environmental work and regulations."
Cameron said that until one route is decided upon, the engineering company cannot make accurate cost estimates. He said that about two years ago a very preliminary price tag for the entire project was estimated at $12 million to $15 million.
Galloway said that the Perrigoues have offered the land needed for the northern route to the city for free.
For Hartman, how to fund either proposed route is the biggest question. Two local quarries, CSR Associated and Menzel Lake Gravel, already give a five to ten cent a ton fee to the city, which could be used to build the road. But Hartman said it’s not enough to cover the road’s construction.
He also said those fees are intended to mitigate the effects of the trucks driving through the city and "squishing our roads," not to build an alternate route.
He said that the county helped create the situation by permitting the construction of the five quarries that operate around the city. He hopes the county will help find a solution to the problem of funding the road’s construction.
County Councilman Rick Larsen said that the council recently allocated $35,000 to help with the predesign review. He also said he has been pushing the council to find other sources of funding for the road, including city, county, state and federal sources.
"I can appreciate the frustration of the people of Granite Falls," Larsen said, as they have been dealing with heavy truck traffic for more than 50 years, although in the past it was due to logging.
"We have an opportunity now to do something about it, and we are taking that opportunity," he said.
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