Mukilteo objects to widening Speedway

MUKILTEO – Any action on the matter is years away, but members of the Mukilteo City Council wanted to be clear: The Mukilteo Speedway should not be widened to make room for future ferry traffic.

A majority of the council members affirmed at a recent workshop that they’re sticking to a decision made in 1995 that instead of widening the speedway, a road should be built down Japanese Gulch, connecting to the Boeing Freeway.

City officials aren’t necessarily wild about the idea, but to them it’s the best option.

“In our opinion at this point in time it’s the only alternative to what the state has proposed,” council President Cathy Reese said.

Widening the Speedway to five lanes is the state’s preferred option. It would entail building noise walls, would affect 38 pieces of property and would eliminate access to several others, Mayor Don Doran said.

“We just don’t think that fits our vision of Mukilteo,” he said.

The state recently released preliminary plans for a new $152 million ferry dock that would include an expanded dock to hold waiting vehicles. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2008 and finish in 2010.

State officials have said the terminal would likely be built at a yet-to-be-determined spot to the east of the current dock, meaning an access road from Japanese Gulch would make more sense, Doran said.

But opponents to such a road cite the forested greenbelt, wetlands and wildlife in the ravine.

Pat Kessler, who lives alongside Japanese Gulch, calls the idea of a road in the ravine “really stupid.”

Kessler is skeptical such a road would handle the ferry traffic.

“We don’t have any easy access out. It’s going to create traffic problems no matter what they do,” she said.

She said the state should route some of the ferries from Whidbey Island to Edmonds and Everett, the ultimate destinations of many travelers. But state ferry officials have ruled out that idea, citing the expense of expanding the Edmonds terminal or building a new one in Everett.

Reese said she believes the environmental concerns in Japanese Gulch could be addressed. The area could even be enhanced, she said, by opening up culverts in Japanese Creek and installing an arboretum and interpretive trails.

The cost between the two options is a wash, Doran said, with a 2000 study commissioned by the city putting the cost for each at about $50 million.

One other option left open by the council, proposed by Councilman Tony Tinsley, would involve building a road down one of the gulches from Everett to the east. Reese said she doesn’t think that is practical. Tinsley could not be reached for comment.

Doran said any actual work is 10 to 20 years away.

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or sheets@heraldnet.com.

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