Thumbs up for new road

Highway 528 gets extra lanes through Marysville


Herald Writer

MARYSVILLE — People who have lived and worked near a seven-month-long road improvement project on Highway 528 said Tuesday that they are glad the work is over.

And many said the project has achieved its goal of making the east-west corridor safer and easier to travel.

That was the word on the street about the project, the completion of which was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.

State and local officials, the job contractors and engineers gathered at 11 a.m. to dedicate the $5 million project, which realigned and widened from two lanes to four a one-mile stretch of Highway 528 (64th Street NE) from 67th Avenue NE east to Highway 9.

The project also added left-turn pockets, sidewalks and bike lanes along both sides of the east-west route.

The project gives people who live in east Marysville, north Lake Stevens and Granite Falls another route to get to and from Everett so they don’t have to travel on jam-packed Highway 9, U.S. 2 and the Hewitt Avenue trestle.

However, it is already causing long lines by the time commuters get past the project to Fourth Street in downtown Marysville because of the many stoplights near the I-5 onramp.

Robin Nelson, assistant city engineer, said the project’s goal was to improve safety and pedestrian access on the road. Nelson said that before the improvements the road had a steep grade and limited sight distance, which contributed to many rear-end collisions.

To improve safety, the roadway was graded and the lanes widened to accommodate the city’s growth for the next 20 years.

Nelson said the average daily traffic was 7,165 vehicles per day in 1997. Traffic is expected to reach 15,670 vehicles per day by 2017, Nelson said.

Of the $5 million price tag for the project, Nelson said $3.8 million came the state Transportation Improvement Board, which is funded by a gas tax; $1.2 million from city and developer mitigation fees; and about $250,000 from the Federal Highway Administration.

Wilder Construction of Everett was the contractor; Perteet Engineering of Everett was the engineer.

City staff praised the project for coming in on budget and six months ahead of schedule.

Drivers had mixed reactions to the project.

"We’re in heaven," said Barb Kanekeberg-Brown, a sales clerk at Details Home Decor and Gifts, a store in the shopping center at the corner of Highway 528 and 67th Avenue NE.

"Hallelujah," chimed in Barb Calkins, another sales clerk at Details.

Both were ecstatic that the construction work, which had limited traffic mainly to eastbound driving, was finished.

"It was so difficult to get down off Highway 9 (during construction) that we were overlooked," Calkins said.

She added that for retailers along the strip, the road work was hard to deal with, but the improvements will be a definite plus in the future.

"There’s more traffic, more direct traffic and the flow of traffic is easier," Calkins said, equating to more customers for retailers.

Calkins also thought taking the "hump" out of the road would increase visibility and safety.

Ron Palmer, who lives off Highway 528 and works in Everett, said even though the improvements haven’t shortened his commute time much, "the everyday traffic flows are much better."

And Linda Davis, who lives off Highway 528, said adding an extra lane for people who turn right off the road will most likely help cut down on rear-end accidents.

Some residents were less enthusiastic about the project, including Mike Andrew, who travels Highway 528 to get from his home near the golf course into downtown.

Andrew said he’s often seen traffic back up during rush hour along Fourth Street getting onto I-5, sometimes as far as 47th Avenue NE. He also said he hasn’t seen much of a change in that pattern since the road project was completed.

However, he said he hopes to see the positive effects of the widened road in the future.

"You’d think going from two to four lanes would be helpful, especially considering how much money they spent on it," Andrew said.

Dave Barnes, who lives near the intersection of Highway 528 and 67th Avenue NE, said of the project: "It’s good because people are going to come around here no matter what, and it alleviates the congestion."

However, Barnes added that the road is now a main thoroughfare and will bring a lot more cars.

And Roberta Anderson, who travels the road regularly, said: "I think it’s bad. There’s so much traffic everywhere. This opens it up for more people to get to town."

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