Water over 35th Avenue SE in Mill Creek. (City of Mill Creek)

Water over 35th Avenue SE in Mill Creek. (City of Mill Creek)

Sinking Mill Creek arterial reopens after extended repair

Crews shut down part of 35th Avenue SE for months to fix a section that often wound up under water.

MILL CREEK — Drivers can now ride through town a little higher and drier.

Crews re-opened a stretch of 35th Avenue SE to traffic Monday afternoon for the first time since July. For years, the arterial had been steadily sinking into peaty soil. Heavy rains sometimes left the roadway submerged, prompting closures.

Runoff from upstream development made things worse, as did beaver dams downstream.

The problem was especially bad where 35th crosses Penny Creek.

“This project has been years in the making,” Mill Creek public works director Gina Hortillosa said, in a news release. “… The benefits of this project will be realized for generations to come. We appreciate all who had a part in making this a reality.”

Most of the $5.3 million city project was covered by state grants. Snohomish County also contributed $50,000. It was the largest road project undertaken by Mill Creek since the city was incorporated in 1983, officials there reported.

During construction, the three-lane arterial was closed between 139th Street and 144th Street SE.

Normally, about 15,000 vehicles travel that stretch daily.

Work included driving more than 500 pin-piles up to 37 feet into the ground and placing a concrete slab on top of the pilings, according to the city. The roadway was rebuilt on top of lightweight concrete fill. New sidewalks were poured. To restore fish passage under the roadway, crews removed two 54-inch culverts.

As of Tuesday, another small change was still to come. Temporary speed bumps are due to be removed from nearby streets this week, city spokeswoman Joni Kirk said. They were installed to discourage detours through surrounding neighborhoods.

Though Mill Creek is finishing up its major project on 35th Avenue, separate county upgrades are continuing farther south.

Work on the first phase of the county project started in June and is expected to be completed this summer. Improvements include new center turn lanes and new bike lanes in both directions from Seattle Hill Road south to 180th Street SE. Sidewalks, planter strips and drainage improvements are other features of the project.

A second phase of county work would involve similar improvements from 180th Street to Maltby Road, also known as Highway 524. Design work and right-of-way acquisition are ongoing. Construction could start next year and last into 2021, if the county secures funding.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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