The growing business district along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, looking west toward I-5. At lower left is the construction site of a new Amazon fulfillment center. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)

The growing business district along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, looking west toward I-5. At lower left is the construction site of a new Amazon fulfillment center. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)

Marysville-Arlington road improvements won’t happen at once

Traffic improvement projects near the Cascade Industrial Center will take shape over the next decade.

MARYSVILLE — Businesses coming to the Cascade Industrial Center are expected to generate more than 10,000 daily trips, and some residents are wondering what improvements will be coming to the already-strained roads.

“I got my driver’s license in 1958 and the roads are basically the same as (they) were then,” said Marysville resident Rodney Elvrom.

City Engineer Jeff Laycock said some of the first major roadway improvements in the area will start to take shape over the next decade.

Developers of NorthPoint, a nine-building light-industrial development just south of Arlington Municipal Airport, bordered by 51st Ave Northeast, 172nd St Northeast and a railroad line, will be required to “alleviate the effects of the project that they’ll have on the transportation network,” said Haylie Miller, community development director for the city of Marysville.

A December 2020 traffic impact analysis, conducted by Gibson Traffic Consultants for the cities of Arlington and Marysville, estimates that nearly half of the trips generated by the industrial complex will travel along 172nd Street NE, 23% will use 152nd Street NE and about 20% will use 51st Avenue.

Work to mitigate increased traffic will begin with the developer’s projects — widening 51st Avenue into a three-lane road and 152nd Street into five lanes, Laycock said. Traffic lights will be added to the intersections that serve as public access to the businesses, including 160th Street Northeast at 51st Avenue Northeast and 152nd Street Northeast at 59th Avenue Northeast.

Sidewalks — something residents including Elvrom cite as essential — will be added to 51st, in addition to bike lanes.

Today “people at the new apartment complex can choose to walk 50 extra blocks or chance going eight blocks, where there’s no shoulder,” Marysville resident Arnie Diel said.

While the developers complete necessary improvements to aid the flow of traffic, the city will convert the 156th Street NE overpass into an I-5 interchange. The project, fully funded under the Connecting Washington Program, is slated to begin in 2025.

The project residents are most concerned with, however, won’t be on the horizon for a few years.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is responsible for upcoming improvements along 172nd Street, also known as highway 531, which were delayed in part by the pandemic.

“The full effect of delays caused by the pandemic is not known at this time,” said WSDOT spokesperson Meggan Carrigg Davidson in an email.

When construction begins, WSDOT will widen a two-mile stretch of Highway 531 from 43rd Avenue Northeast to 67th Avenue Northeast. Roundabouts will be added at 43rd, 51st, 59th and 67th avenues northeast.

The goal is to ease congestion and offer safer access to the highway for trucks, cars, pedestrians and bikers, but residents worry it’s not soon enough.

“Up by the Arlington airport is backed up clear to the freeway all the time,” Elvrom said.

In a March 19 memo, traffic consultants wrote that the Cascade Industrial Center is estimated to be 65% occupied by 2030, meaning thousands of trips will be made during peak hours.

“It’s gonna be built out in sections, not everything will happen at once,” Laycock said. “The city is working with the development community to make sure the improvements are being made.”

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

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