Aerial view of 14th Ave. extension looking north. (Snohomish County Public Works)

Aerial view of 14th Ave. extension looking north. (Snohomish County Public Works)

Public outcry halts Brier-area road extension plan

The Snohomish County Council delayed a vote on the project amid traffic and environmental concerns.

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Council postponed a decision on a proposed road extension near Brier this week after about 100 people inundated the legislative office with objections that the new segment would destroy wetlands and disrupt surrounding neighborhoods.

The project would extend 14th Avenue West from 220th Street SW to Locust Way, adding a new arterial for traffic between Lynnwood and Brier.

On Wednesday, the council voted unanimously to get more information before approving a right-of-way plan that would allow county staff to begin obtaining land rights needed for the extension. The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in 2027, according to county Public Works Deputy Director Doug McCormick.

Residents and environmental activists say the new segment of road is unnecessary and expensive. The extension would also weaken the watershed and redirect traffic through what is now a quiet neighborhood where streets are used freely by pedestrians, cyclists and children at play.

“It would absolutely turn our lives upside down, as with the lives of other neighbors here in our cul-de-sac and in the neighborhood,” Anthony Gabriel, who lives along the proposed extension route, told the council on Wednesday.

His kids — ages 10, 8 and 6 — are often outside playing basketball and laser tag, he said.

“We’re real people who would be significantly impacted by this project,” Gabriel said.

Councilman Jared Mead, whose district includes the project site, asked that the council hold off “indefinitely” on approving the right-of-way plan until the county is able to address concerns of the community.

The measure was referred back to the council’s Public Works Committee for further discussion.

“I want to express support and appreciation to the public for their comments and sharing their concerns,” Councilwoman Megan Dunn said Wednesday. “I support taking the time to reconsider this project. I think it’s a good idea to kind of put the brakes on this and review more of the data and come back with a new plan, or a changed plan, or a better understanding of long-term impacts.”

The project was first identified in the 1980s as work that could be necessary to accommodate future growth, McCormick said. When the county updated its comprehensive plan in 2015, modeling studies suggested that traffic will increase enough by 2035 to support the new segment.

The extended road would be two or three lanes wide, flanked with bike lanes, curbs, gutters and sidewalks. A roundabout would be built at 14th Avenue W and Locust Way.

The entire project, including some drainage improvements, would cost nearly $15 million. However, county officials don’t yet know where that money would come from.

County staff have estimated right-of-way acquisition costs at about $3.2 million. It will likely be less than that, though, McCormick said. He pegged the acquisition costs at about $630,000, plus another $925,000 to acquire land for mitigation measures meant to offset the project’s impact on wetlands.

Critics have pointed out that the mitigation sites being considered are not in the same drainage basin as the new road would be.

Several streams cross below the proposed extension route and drain into nearby Swamp Creek, which has historically served as a salmon-spawning stream.

“Unfortunately due to poor land use decisions, those salmon runs are just hanging on,” Tom Murdoch, an ecologist who founded the local nonprofit Adopt A Stream Foundation, told the County Council.

He called the extension “another example of a poorly planned project.”

Opponents also worry that the destruction of wetlands would increase runoff into Swamp Creek, leading to water quality issues and flooding problems downstream.

The city of Kenmore, at the bottom of the Swamp Creek basin, petitioned the county to reconsider the project for those reasons.

“While Kenmore has a small fraction of the Swamp Creek basin at the terminus of Swamp Creek, it has had to take numerous and costly actions to address discharge and water quality issues as a result of upstream development impacts,” Kenmore City Attorney Dawn Reitan said in a Tuesday letter to the council.

“An example of such upstream development includes the proposed ROW Extension Project, which would destroy a large forested headwater wetland adjacent to Swamp Creek, negatively impacting its tributaries,” Reitan wrote.

The county will assess the environmental impact of the project, as required by the State Environmental Policy Act, McCormick said. That process will include public meetings.

“Having the right-of-way plan approved by council is just a step in the process moving forward,” he said.

Rachel Riley: 425-339-3465; rriley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rachel_m_riley.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Staff are evaluating two more light rail alternatives for the Everett Link extension. One would follow Interstate 5 north of 128th Street SW to the Everett Mall and back to the freeway. Another would go west of 128th Street SW to Highway 99 and north to Casino Road. (Sound Transit)
Snohomish County leaders reject light rail routes bypassing Paine Field

Those options weren’t what voters approved — and would be like “butchering” the plan, the Snohomish County executive said.

A Sound Transit train arrives at Westlake Station in downtown Seattle. (Sue Misao / Herald file) May 2019
Should light rail skip Paine Field and Boeing? We asked, you answered

More than 300 Herald readers responded to an online poll. Here are the results.

Councilmember Megan Dunn, left, stands next to County Executive Dave Somers as he presents his 2023 budget proposal to her, Councilmember Nate Nehring and Councilmember Sam Low. (Snohomish County)
As County Council begins budget talks, here’s how you can weigh in.

Department heads will make their pitches in the next few days. Residents will get a say at a forum and two hearings this month

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Highway 9 work could disrupt travel through Lake Stevens

Construction is set for roundabouts on South Lake Stevens Road and one at North Davies Road and Vernon Road.

Lynnwood City Council members, from left: Jim Smith, Shirley Sutton, Shannon Sessions, Josh Binda, George Hurst, Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, and Patrick Decker. (City of Lynnwood)
No penalty for Lynnwood council member’s ‘underinformed’ views on racism

The City Council didn’t censure Jim Smith after a report found he discriminated against a Black city employee.

All ears: Mukilteo couple provides surgery for kids born without ears

Dr. Prabhat and Trish Bhama are part of a HUGS volunteer team providing treatment for microtia in Guatemala.

Everett
Everett gets state Auditor’s Office stewardship award

State Auditor Pat McCarthy presented the award during the most recent Everett City Council meeting.

Representative Rick Larsen speaks at the March For Our Lives rally on Saturday, June 11, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Larsen to hold community meeting in Everett on Monday

The veteran Democratic lawmaker will address recent legislation passed by Congress and other topics.

Tribal members dance to start an assemble on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day Friday evening at Tulalip Gathering Hall in Tulalip, Washington on September 30, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘Still here’: Tulalip boarding school descendants celebrate resilience

On Orange Shirt Day, a national day of remembrance, the Tulalip Tribes honored those who suffered due to violent cultural suppression.

Most Read