There’s a distinct beauty rolling along Lowell Larimer Road bordering the Snohomish Valley.
One side features the dramatic hill leading to Everett and Mill Creek. The other a flat expanse of farms with their iconic barns and overlooking homes.
It can be easy to take in the sights from a car, especially during the eastbound afternoon crush.
Just ask Ali Pellham, of Snohomish, who emailed The Daily Herald about the clockwork traffic congestion she’s part of every weekday afternoon.
“When traveling home on Lowell Larimer Road every night at 5:30, the traffic is backed up due to cars trying to turn left onto Marsh Road,” she wrote. “There is constant traffic coming from (Highway) 9 that use Marsh Road.”
Seeing plenty of barely averted collisions at the intersection led Pellham to ask, “Is there a better and safer solution to this traffic flow?”
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is also yes, but it would require lots of property acquisition (some of it likely through eminent domain) and millions of dollars to redo the entire configuration, and no intersection or road improvements are planned.
For those unfamiliar, “Larimers Corner” is far from a typical grid intersection of 90-degree angles. It straddles the border between an urban growth area and rural agricultural land in Snohomish County.
Instead it is a tangle of technically four two-lane roads (Lowell Larimer, East Lowell Larimer/Highway 96, Marsh and Seattle Hill) that meander and meet east of Everett city limits, northeast of Mill Creek and southwest of Snohomish.
“I’m sure at one point they were wagon wheel roads,” Snohomish County engineer Doug McCormick said.
Two intersections are a short distance from each other.
Lowell Larimer Road links Everett’s Lowell neighborhood toward Snohomish and Highway 9 via the Marsh Road intersection. People heading east on Lowell Larimer come to a stop sign, where Marsh Road traffic has the right of way.
Turning left from Lowell Larimer to Marsh Road leads people past the bustling Snohomish Valley Golf Center and to Highway 9, or through that intersection and into Snohomish via Airport Way.
People trying to get from Everett to Snohomish or Lake Stevens might use this route to skirt some of the traffic on I-5 and the U.S. 2 trestle.
“It can cause a bit of a delay and backup, especially during the p.m. peak,” McCormick said. “Even though it does have backups at times, it really is functioning.”
Seattle Hill Road, which the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) maintains since it’s part of Highway 96, runs down the hill from the busy 132nd Street SE area. It connects to the intersection of East Lowell Larimer and Marsh roads as a three-way stop with a southbound yield for those continuing up the slope of Seattle Hill Road.
About 7,700 vehicles used Seattle Hill Road near East Lowell Larimer Road per day in 2021, according to state data.
“From a WSDOT right of way standpoint, there is nothing occurring that is exceptional based on data in terms of traffic congestion or safety/collisions,” spokesperson James Poling wrote in an email.
As of mid-June this year, there were no reported crashes at those intersections.
There hasn’t been a fatal collision since 2013, according to data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
There were four crashes in 2022, three in 2021 and two in 2020, though none had apparent injuries, according to WSDOT data.
Challenges loom with adding lanes or changing the roads’ configurations and intersections. The valley is in the floodplain, which requires a lot of environmental planning and review for work within it.
The county’s Lowell Larimer and Marsh roads, shoulders and other property that might be able to be firmed up for public use are pretty much at their full extent, McCormick said.
“It’s very narrow right of way in that area,” he said. “You’re constrained along Marsh Road with deep agricultural ditches on each side of the road.”
The county’s public works department workers applied a high friction treatment to some of the curves on Lowell Larimer and Marsh roads, but that won’t help with traffic flow aside from hopefully keeping tires on the asphalt.
Have a question? Call 425-339-3037 or email email@example.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence.