Property owners push tax for bridge

MARYSVILLE — Some property owners here are so enthusiastic about the plan to build a new bridge over I-5 that they’re willing to tax themselves to help pay for it.

The city of Marysville is planning a tax on property owners in the Smokey Point and Twin Lakes areas to help pay for the $16 million bridge.

Many of those property owners are investors who stand to gain from road improvements, and they say they’re willing to pay their share to get the ball rolling.

“I was one of the instigators,” said Jim Tosti of Kirkland, who owns about 440 acres in the Marysville part of Smokey Point, more than anyone else, according to the city.

“The value added for doing something like this (bridge) in the area is tremendous,” he said. “It adds so many opportunities for the city, number one, and the landowners. It’s just a great deal.”

The span would link Twin Lakes Boulevard and Smokey Point Boulevard at 156th Street NE, providing a much-needed traffic outlet to the south for the Lakewood Crossing shopping center and adjoining neighborhoods. The city hopes the bridge can be built next year.

The bridge also is seen as a way to take some traffic off 172nd while providing a greater link between the two sides of I-5.

The planned taxing district for the bridge encompasses 1,577 acres on both sides of I-5. It has an irregular boundary that stretches east-west from railroad tracks on the west side of I-5 to 58th Drive NE, and from 164th Street NE to 140th Street NE. The district includes the Lakewood Crossing shopping center but not the neighborhoods immediately to the west.

Most of the district is open, former farmland with some industry already present. Much of it is owned by investors.

Both the city of Marysville and landowners hope to attract light industrial and high-tech development to the area. The city once tried to lure NASCAR into building a track there and would still like to entice the state into building a University of Washington branch campus in the area.

Marysville has mapped out $85 million in road projects for the northern part of the city. Many of these won’t get done until development begins, city officials say. More tax assessments could be coming down the road, along with developer fees.

Every little bit that property owners can pitch in will help, as the city currently has little money for either the bridge project or any of the others.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Bill Binford, who owns several parcels in the Smokey Point area. Binford is a Kirkland-based investor.

A formula based on property value and square footage will determine how much each owner pays. The totals aren’t yet known — the city is currently studying that very issue, public works director Kevin Nielsen said. He hopes to have it nailed down by late spring.

The city hopes it can receive some funding for the bridge from the federal economic stimulus package. The state is expected to receive $4.4 billion, including $495 million for roads. It’s not yet known how that money will be divided.

If that money doesn’t come through, the city will have to pay for the project itself with its own money and from the tax on property owners, Nielsen said.

The city has encountered no opposition at all so far from any of the property owners in the potential taxing district, Nielsen said.

Tosti is gung-ho.

“I think it’s a tremendous move on the city’s part to put this overpass together, it shows some vision and some foresight — it really needs to be there,” he said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439,

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