The city of Everett is considering a bridge extending east from Everett Avenue over the bluff and railroad to property it owns for a new public works base. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The city of Everett is considering a bridge extending east from Everett Avenue over the bluff and railroad to property it owns for a new public works base. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Neighbors worried over noise, traffic from potential Everett Ave bridge

The city needs the crossing to reach the new site for a public works base east of East Grand Avenue and the railroad.

EVERETT — A new bridge — critical to plans for relocating the city’s public works campus to a site near the Snohomish River and away from a future downtown light rail station — could lead to increased noise and traffic, some residents worry.

But city officials say extending Everett Avenue east from East Grand Avenue in north Everett will provide access to the best of three potential campus sites identified in a study.

The others were within the area bound by 41st Street, Broadway, I-5 and Pacific Avenue or redoing the current campus, which consists of a few buildings south of Pacific Avenue along Cedar Street. About 300 employees work out of the site.

City leaders have said overhauling the existing buildings wouldn’t be the “highest and best” use for that property less than half-mile from Everett Station and the future light rail station. And finding new property could be costly and take a long time, Everett Public Works Director Ryan Sass said.

The city already owns property for the preferred option, the Everett Point Industrial Center, or EPIC, about 74 acres bound by the railroad to the west and the Snohomish River on three sides.

Public works employees already often travel to that site, called the “boneyard,” to retrieve materials. They take Railway Avenue to cross the train tracks, but when a train rumbles through it can hold up their work.

A bridge from Everett Avenue over the bluff and rail tracks could help solve that issue.

“We think it’s potentially a good home for us,” Sass said during the Riverside Neighborhood Association meeting Tuesday.

But neighbors on Tuesday asked if noise and traffic from a new bridge would disrupt their lives.

Everett Avenue is an arterial road that connects to nearby I-5 and U.S. 2. That makes it the contender for a bridge instead of other points north at 23rd, 24th or 25th streets.

East Grand Avenue is a two-lane residential street with a 25 mph speed limit and wide sidewalk to the east that doubles as the Mill Town Trail. But that street also winds north toward I-5 and meets East Marine View Drive, which leads to Broadway, Highway 529 and the Riverside Business Park.

Some neighbors asked about potential traffic impact to that street if drivers looked to avoid congestion on Broadway by taking East Grand.

A car drives east along Everett Avenue as it turns into Grand Avenue East on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A car drives east along Everett Avenue as it turns into Grand Avenue East on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

It’s too early in the process to say for certain what the bridge will be, Sass said. But one possibility is a flyover that would rise above the curve of East Grand and Everett avenues, he said. Doing so could put its west end far away enough to preclude right turns onto East Grand.

“We want to protect East Grand,” Sass said. “We don’t want trucks on it.”

A type, size and location study about bridge options is expected to be available later this year, Sass said. Staff also are looking for grants to help pay for its design and construction.

The city could be on the hook to develop public waterfront access if it builds at the EPIC site because it isn’t a water-dependent use, Sass said. That could be a riverfront trail, which would be accessible via the bridge’s bike lanes and sidewalks.

The city is unlikely to connect such a trail to trails about 3 miles north at the Port of Everett’s Riverside Business Park because there’s not enough land between the railroad and river near I-5, Sass said.

If the EPIC site development and bridge are approved, it could take almost a decade to complete. About 200 public works employees in operations would occupy about 25 acres of the campus. The other 100 administrative staff would relocate to the Everett Municipal Building, which would be renovated to accommodate them.

The bridge and EPIC campus construction have a high-end cost estimate of $180 million.

Some of that could be defrayed by the city selling some of its remaining riverfront acreage, Sass said.

The city would be a relatively good neighbor and responsive to complaints and concerns, Sass said. Most of its operations are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with some emergency work during storms and other urgent events.

“We’re not typically a nighttime operation,” Sass said.

The proximity of the proposed campus to the river and the potential for flooding has prompted city leaders to consider building its campus floor “significantly” higher than the 2 feet above the 100-year-flood level, Sass said.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037;; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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