Highway 9 fixes would be for the short term, opinions sought
Participate in WSDOT’s online survey, visit
www.tinyurl.com/SR9-options through Jan. 26.
|Chris Hendrickson photo
|County Councilman Sam Low looks over WSDOT’s options
at the meeting last week.
CLEARVIEW — The state Department of Transportation is seeking public input on three proposals WSDOT is considering for quick-fix congestion relief on Highway 9.
The ultimate goal is
to widen the highway to four lanes the whole way through but the money’s not there.
The three proposals being considered are aimed at improving the flow of traffic on state Route 9 from
176th Street SE to state Route 96. The section of roadway currently creates a bottleneck between two previously widened stretches of Highway 9.
The state presented the concepts during an open house held Wednesday, Jan. 11 at Glacier Peak High School and is taking input on the concepts now through Thursday, Jan. 26.
WSDOT’s long-range plans are to widen state Route 9 to
fix this three-mile “missing link” and form a continuous four-lane highway from Highway 522 to the Airport Road/Marsh Road inter-section south of Snohomish.
WSDOT has money-in-hand to accomplish design work and right-of-way acquisition for widening this part of the highway but no money for constructing the additional lanes.
So, the plan is to spend some of the earmarked money to instead build these low-cost improvements that can offer some interim relief, WSDOT Assistant Regional Administrator John White said.
“We’re going to take some of the money we had to design this, and buy right-of-way and actually build some improvements,” White said. “It really comes down to a question of how much interim work makes sense while not undermining the long-term project too much.”
Option No. 1 would add a second northbound lane on state Route 9 from 176th Street SE to 164th Street SE, by narrowing the shoulder area and re-striping the
roadway. Doing this is estimated to cost $3 million, with construction slated for summer of 2018.
The option has several disadvantages, White said, including that this would eliminate the left turn lanes used to access 168th
“It could create safety concerns,” White said.
Option No. 2 adds left hand turn lanes on 164th Street SE and alters the timing of the traffic signal at that intersection, giving travelers on State Route 9 longer green light times. This idea is estimated to cost $1.2 million, and the state could have construction started this summer and end by this fall.
on state Route 9 longer green light times. This idea is estimated to cost $1.2 million, and the state could have construction started
this summer and end by this fall.
Option 2 is WSDOT’s preferred option, said White, as it offers reduced construction impacts while increasing overall efficiency of the intersection.
Option No. 3 involves adding a second northbound lane on state Route 9 from 168th Street SE to 156th Street SE, a shorter distance than what is being proposed in Option 1. This option is estimated to cost $1.2 million and could
be constructed next year.
A disadvantage of Option 3, said Snohomish resident Cindy Carpenter, is that
it adds an additional point where drivers would be required to merge from two lanes into one.
“This one is going to create road rage,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said that she wished that WSDOT would focus on widening the road-way, as the interim proposals seemed to hold little promise for relief.
Revisions at the Cathcart Way intersection, located further north, would be accomplished in conjunction with whichever of the three proposals is implemented.
Plans for the intersection include lengthening the northbound left turn lane onto Cathcart Way by 180 feet, increasing the amount of available storage space for vehicles waiting at the intersection. The longer left-turn pocket will help reduce overflow onto state Route 9, as that overflow can hinder northbound traffic, said White.
Option 2 combined with enhancements at Cathcart could have a positive impact, White said.
“Making these improve-ments at 164th and making a much bigger turn lane pocket
at Cathcart gives you quite
a bit of improvement,” White said.
County Councilmen Terry Ryan and Sam Low were in attendance. While the proposed improvements are in Ryan’s district, they are directly adjacent to Low’s district. Transportation was a key issue in Low’s campaign last fall.
Low said that he appreciated WSDOT’s flexibility and willingness to apply some of its funding to interim solutions because it will help improve the overall flow of traffic through the area.
“I think it’s huge,” Low said.
“I appreciate WSDOT speeding up the process and finding solutions that will temporarily work for us. I think that’s the right thing.”
For more information on the alternatives proposed, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr9/176thtosr96widening/ and to submit a preference in WSDOT’s online survey, visit www.tinyurl.com/SR9-options through Jan. 26.
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