Changes are coming to the patchwork of roads near Frontier Village and highways 9 and 204 in Lake Stevens.
The Washington State Department of Transportation is set to start work this summer on the $69.5 million project. The Legislature’s Connecting Washington transportation package is covering the tab to add a lane to Highway 9, erect noise walls and build four roundabouts in the vicinity of where the highways meet.
All of the changes should ease traffic congestion and improve access to businesses and pedestrian mobility, according to WSDOT.
Getting there will mean full highway closures and detours on two long weekends. Those dates are to be determined.
There is an online open house to learn about the project through July 25 at engage.wsdot.wa.gov/sr-9-sr-204. People can visit an in-person session 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday outside of the Frontier Village Safeway.
The intersection of highways 9 and 204 averaged 33,000 vehicles a day, according to WSDOT data.
“We’ve seen exceptional growth in this region,” Lake Stevens Public Works director Aaron Halverson said. “It’s not just Lake Stevens, it’s Arlington and Granite Falls. Many of these folks are traveling on Highway 9.”
The state’s road projects near Frontier Village should improve movement and safety for pedestrians and drivers, he said.
Contractors are set to build drainage and roundabouts in seven phases between this July and fall 2023.
The first phase is planned for July and will last about 10 weeks. Part of 92nd Avenue NE near 7th Place NE will be closed for work. Access to businesses will be maintained during their operating hours, according to the Department of Transportation.
A new roundabout is coming to 91st Avenue NE and Vernon Road. Instead of a traditional circle, it will be a “bow tie” roundabout shaped like a figure eight: 66 feet wide on the north end and 75 feet on the south.
Engineers chose that shape to conform to the intersection’s current configuration. It also means it won’t require additional right-of-way from adjacent properties, state transportation spokesperson Tony Black said in an email.
Construction to widen the highway and build a sidewalk also will close a Community Transit bus stop on the northwest corner of the intersection at highways 9 and 204.
Phase two requires a full closure of the intersection of Frontage Road, North Davies Road and Vernon Road over a long weekend. Crews will use that time to build a 64-foot wide roundabout at the intersection, and they are expected to allow access to the nearby gas station and restaurant during normal hours. It’s planned to last four days and five nights.
Once built, Lake Stevens will be responsible for the landscaping and maintenance of those roundabouts because they are on the city’s right-of-way.
The third phase, building subsurface drainage for stormwater at Highway 9 and Vernon Road, is expected to take four weeks. Large detention ponds will be built east and west of Highway 9, south of the Highway 204 intersection. Stormwater runoff will get treated before connecting to the existing drainage system. Ditches south of Vernon Road on either side of Highway 9 will be connected to a storm sewer system.
Crews will need a full highway closure over four days and five nights to build a new roundabout at that intersection for phase four. It will create a new east-west connection across the highway between North Davies Road and Vernon Road. The closure won’t be on a holiday or during a major city or regional event.
Phase five will mean seven weeks of drainage work and evening lane closures near the main entrance to Frontier Village. Bus stops could be closed temporarily.
The sixth phase includes another long weekend Highway 9 closure to build the roundabout at the intersection with Highway 204. Traffic will be diverted to the new roundabouts at Vernon Road.
Everything will be open during the seventh and final phase for landscaping work. That includes a welcome sign at the highways 9 and 204 roundabout.
Both Highway 9 roundabouts will have two lanes through them, with a third right-turn bypass lane.
Lake Stevens leaders and WSDOT staff tout the Highway 9 roundabouts, each 150 feet wide, as an improvement for pedestrians who want to cross. Currently they have to go south to the Highway 204 intersection or even farther north to Lundeen Parkway to reach a crosswalk.
“Right now crossing (Highway) 9, you take your life into your hands,” Halverson said. “Crossing six lanes of traffic, that’s a long way.”
The state is building sidewalks 10-feet wide east of Highway 9 from Market Place to North Davies Road. Bike and pedestrian crossings with button-activated flashing yellow lights will be on the south end of both Highway 9 roundabouts.
Signs will suggest 15 mph for drivers entering the highway roundabouts.
Adding another northbound lane to Highway 9 and roundabouts should cut congestion and idling, as drivers get “continuous” movement at a lower speed, Black said. That can reduce gas use and emissions.
But studies have found when highways are expanded, vehicle drivers fill that added space and traffic congestion returns. The Urbanist has also refuted climate action gains from highway expansion. The state’s Climate Commitment Act calls for capping and, by 2050, substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the majority of which come from transportation.
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