I read the March 7 letter to the editor from a reader in Lake Stevens (“Monroe: Without roads, why try to ‘sell’ the city?”), and want to thank her for writing regarding improving roadways entering and exiting the city of Monroe. I am chairman of the U.S. 2 Safety Coalition, a committee of concerned business persons, private citizens, organizations and elected officials from Everett to Skykomish who have been meeting monthly for the past 10 years, working very hard to direct attention to this seriously neglected interstate highway.
Monroe is a rapidly growing community with three major state highways passing into or through it, much like the hub of a wheel. In fact, all of East Snohomish County, like Lake Stevens, is growing at a record rate. New affordable homes are being built on what was once pasture and woodlands everywhere. New shopping centers, community branding, and affordable homes are an indicator of a growing, robust economy.
Unfortunately, our roadway infrastructure has not kept pace with this growth. Many people who live outside Monroe utilize these roads to commute to work, go shopping, travel to Eastern Washington, or go skiing, fishing or hunting, and yet none of the “Nickel Gas Tax” money approved two years ago by the Legislature were allocated to improve U.S. 2. As a result, there are not any currently approved projects for this highway and yet we are seeing a significant safety and capacity problem developing which the Safety Coalition is working diligently to improve.
We obtained funds from multiple sources, including Congress, the Puget Sound Regional Council and the Legislature, which enabled the state Department of Transportation to come up with a Route Development Plan for U.S. 2 which is due to be completed this April. This plan will identify and prioritize the major areas for safety and capacity improvements.
The city of Monroe has committed a significant amount of money to try and mitigate and improve traffic movement within the city and especially on U.S. 2 and Highway 522. An example is the proposed Phase 1 and Phase 2 bypass designs for U.S. 2 and Highway 522, a traffic study and an engineering cost saving analysis done by the associate city engineer and supported by Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon and County Councilman Dave Somers.
Also, more than 400 citizens mailed in written responses to a survey handed out at the Evergreen State Fair.
The bypass project will, hopefully, be included on the Regional Transportation Investment District (RTID) ballot this November for voter approval. It is our hope that voters will approve the measure, which is vital to safety and capacity improvements on U.S. 2 and Highway 522.
To say that the City of Monroe has not included any traffic improvement mitigation planning or funds in its overall plans to market the community is incorrect. Transportation improvement is a very high priority with the city, as evidenced by the high-profile endeavors of the mayor, city planner, engineering staff, the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and others.
The U.S. 2 Safety Coalition welcomes all comments and input from anyone interested in improving safety and capacity on U.S. 2 and Highway 522. We have partnered with Monroe and all cities along U.S. 2 to work with our state, federal and county legislators trying to make these critical improvements a reality in a reasonable time frame.
Sultan Police Chief Fred B. Walser is chairman of the U.S. 2 Safety Coalition. His wife, Monroe Mayor Donetta Walser, is vice-chair of the coalition. For more information, visit www.us2safetycoalition.org.