Traffic along U.S. 2 in Monroe, about six miles west of Sultan in March 2021. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Traffic along U.S. 2 in Monroe, about six miles west of Sultan in March 2021. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Sultan seeks solutions to U.S. 2 gridlock — again

An open house will be held on Wednesday about several ideas to ease traffic jams. Most options call for a wider highway.

SULTAN — The city of Sultan wants the public’s feedback on ideas to ease congestion on U.S. 2.

Residents have long complained of bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway — a key route for recreation access. For years, officials and locals have searched for remedies.

Last year, the city commissioned a new study on four possible options to lessen gridlock. The study, from November 2021, considers the rapid growth in Sultan and throughout the region, Sultan Mayor Russell Wiita said.

“Our growth really exploded in the last couple of years,” he said.

Three of the four options call for widening, or partial widening, of the two-lane highway.

The city will hold an open house on Wednesday evening for the public to learn about the study and give feedback.

More than 24,000 eastbound drivers travel each day on U.S. 2 east of Old Owen Road, and 15,000 travel east of Startup, according to a City Council presentation in January.

Traffic along U.S. 2 in Monroe, about six miles west of Sultan in March 2021. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Traffic along U.S. 2 in Monroe, about six miles west of Sultan in March 2021. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Peak congestion times are Friday afternoons and evenings, and on Sunday afternoons.

On Sundays, westbound drivers experience 15 minutes of delay, on average, from the Proctor Creek area to the west side of the city, compared to free-flowing traffic, the study states. In the most extreme cases, delays can reach up to 87 minutes.

And the number of peak hour trips is expected to increase by 110% by 2040.

Regional travel is to blame for much of the traffic.

“We know that a large amount of the traffic on Highway 2 is not originating or stopping in Sultan,” Wiita said.

The November study examined four options to ease congestion and found three to be viable.

One option would construct a five-lane highway, with two lanes of travel in each direction, a left-hand turn lane and signal controls.

A second option creates a four-lane highway with four new roundabouts, and it would be expected to reduce crashes.

A third idea is to build four lanes with a couplet, converting U.S. 2 to a one-way eastbound road and Main Street to a one-way westbound road. This option would require a new Sultan River bridge.

“We’re considering them all,” Wiita said. “The two lanes (in each direction) with roundabouts is the one that seems to be the preferred option.”

At the Wednesday open house, the public can view the options, submit comments and vote on their favorites.

Public outreach will continue throughout the year.

The estimated cost to widen U.S. 2 to five lanes through Sultan is between $45 million and $60 million, according to the study. The state Legislature would need to allocate funding.

“Our hope is by the end of this year, we have enough information to identify a preferred alternative to go to the Legislature as soon as next legislative session in January,” Wiita said.

Have feedback?

Attend an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday to learn about the U.S. 2 study and share your thoughts. The open house will be at Sultan City Hall, 319 Main St.

Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; Twitter: @jacq_allison.

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