Plans in works to repair one of two flood-damaged roads

Terri Snider of Silvana writes: There are two roads in my area that have been damaged by flooding over the past few years, and there doesn’t seem to be any movement to fix these roads and improve the hazards they create.

The first one is 236th Street NE (I-5 exit 210) west of I-5. This road has been down to one lane since the northbound lane was undermined by flooding a few years ago, and the only improvements we have seen are the placement of a barrier and stop signs to control traffic on the remaining lane.

This road was always hazardous to drive when icy or rainy. It has quite a steep slope with a blind curve at each end, and this hazard has now been increased by having both directions of traffic sharing one lane.

The second is Miller Road in the Stillaguamish Valley near the Stanwood-Camano fairgrounds. This road has been completely closed to all traffic since it was damaged by the flooding and the only improvements have been the addition of a barrier to keep cars off the road.

We see road repairs taking place throughout the year, yet have seen no repairs on either of these roads.

Owen Carter, chief engineer for Snohomish County, responds: As Terri has seen first-hand, both Miller Road and 236th Street NE, west of I-5, were severely damaged by winter flooding. Repairing both roads is neither quick nor easy. The damage is extensive enough that crews can’t simply shore up the damaged area and repave; they actually have to stabilize and anchor the soil before they can begin rebuilding the road.

The county is working with a geotechnical engineer to come up with a road design for the damaged areas. Before construction can begin, crews have to work through a number of issues: right-of-way acquisition, possible archaeological finds and an extensive environmental process.

We currently have funding to design and obtain permits for permanent repairs to 236th Street NE (Jackson Gulch Road), and hope to begin construction in summer 2014. You can check out our project page at tinyurl.com/SnoCoJacksonGulch.

Permanent repairs to Miller Road are expected to cost several million dollars. And unlike 236th Street NE, Miller Road serves a very low volume of traffic and several nearby roads provide convenient alternate routes. Unless we can secure outside funding for repairs, the road will remain closed and we will direct our repair dollars toward roads with a greater need.

Andy Ouellette of Bothell writes: Four new traffic lights have been installed on 35th Avenue SE between 180th Street SE and Maltby Road in south Snohomish County.

The green lights on some of the signals are difficult to see. Portions of the signals on southbound 35th at 198th appear to feature a directional filtered lens on the lights themselves and directional slats in front of the lens. These two features combine to greatly restrict the zone from which the green lights can be seen by drivers.

As currently set up, this southbound green light at 198th cannot be seen from the intersection at 197th Street, approximately 100 yards away. These green lights also cannot be seen by a driver waiting at or just before the stop bar at the intersection of 198th.

The result is that the roadway distance in which the green lights at 198th can be seen is relatively small, as is the time period that a driver can observe the green signals at the posted speed limit of 35 mph. Outside of the distance and time period, if the lights are green, the signals appear to be non-functional. The red and yellow portions of the signals do not have slats installed; as a result, they can be seen from a much larger area.

This is an unsafe situation. These lights should be changed to widen the zone from which the green signal is visible.

Owen Carter of Snohomish County responds: The new traffic signals on 35th Avenue SE at 197th Street SE and 198th Street SE are intentionally “shaded,” as Andy noticed, so drivers don’t ignore the first signal to anticipate the second.

Because the two intersections are so closely spaced, engineers had to ensure that southbound drivers focused on the first signal (at 197th) before looking ahead to the signal at 198th. To do that, they angled the green lights inside the signal head at 198th down toward the ground. That way, drivers won’t miss seeing a red light at the 197th signal because they’re looking at a green light on the 198th signal.

The red and yellow lights, in contrast, are not angled down and are clearly visible on both signals. And because the two signals work in coordination with each other, there’s no chance of a driver passing through a green light at 197th and having to slam on the brakes at 198th.

E-mail us at stsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your city of residence.

Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts.

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