New roadwork will focus on two Snohomish County highways

New road projects worth $106.6 million are about to start around Snohomish County with most of the work focusing on improving Highway 9 and U.S. 2.

Eight key projects are set to begin in the county over the next few months as the construction season starts. Six of them aim to ease congestion and improve safety along the two highways in southeastern parts of the county.

“One of the best ways to stop accidents is to deal with congestion,” said Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, who sits on the House Transportation Committee. “More accidents happen on narrow, winding roads.”

Crews are expected to widen about 1.5 miles of Highway 9 from two to four lanes between Highway 96 north to Marsh Road just east of Mill Creek, according to the state Department of Transportation. The $53.4 million project could be complete by spring 2010.

Another new project is about to start on Highway 9 near Lake Stevens. Snohomish County plans to widen the highway to four lanes from two and add three new traffic signals between S. Lake Stevens Road and 20th Street SE. The $30.5 million project, funded by the state and the county, is to wrap up in late 2009, said Max Phan, a public works supervisor for the county.

“It’s both for safety and congestion relief,” Phan said.

Crews are about to begin grinding centerline rumble strips and adding new striping along a 40-mile segment of U.S. 2 between east of Monroe and Stevens Pass. The divots in the middle of the highway are expected to be completed this summer. The $4 million work aims to prevent crossover crashes along the narrow, winding highway.

“Obviously, there are safety concerns with U.S. 2,” said Aurora Jones, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

The state also plans to spend $1.2 million installing guardrails along parts of U.S. 2 and removing dangerous objects such as tree stumps and boulders from the side of the road.

In the summer, workers plan to install a permanent wall to stabilize the slope along U.S. 2 near Index. After the Election Day flood in November 2006, the slope sank and took out a part of the highway. The state had pounded 66 large rods into the slope in early 2007 as a temporary fix.

At another spot along the highway, the state plans to stabilize the hillside and install a drainage system as well.

Improvements for U.S. 2 are long overdue, Kristiansen said. Overall improvements for the highway would cost about $2 billion.

U.S. 2 is finally getting long overdue work, he said.

In 2008, some ongoing projects are set to wrap up in Snohomish County. For instance, the I-5 Everett widening project is scheduled to be complete this summer. The $263 million project is considered the third most expensive highway project in the state’s history.

The 2008 construction season is expected to be slow, with more major projects set to begin over the next few years, Jones said. In 2009, the state plans to start projects worth $80 million for Highway 532 in Stanwood.

“It will be sort of the calm before a storm,” she said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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