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Second Street congestion a focal point, lower speed limits discussed

SNOHOMISH — City Public Works director Steve Schuller briefed the City Council last week on the “state of the streets.”
His annual report covered four main topics: pedestrian/crosswalk safety, traffic congestion, self-driving vehicles and city design. Second Street is targeted as a major focus for traffic congestion.
The city is angling for a $300,000 grant for a complete study and redesign of Second Street.
Second Street is the city’s east-west arterial, with thousands of commuters passing through each day to either bypass parts of U.S. 2 or hop over to state Route 9. There are a handful of pedestrian crossings on Second Street, and residents say the road is a nightmare to try and cross at high-traffic times.
The city is on a draft list for a complete $300,000 design
for Second Street study, Schuller told the council.
He said increasing economic benefits like tourism or more new homes, to the area brings in more traffic, calling it “traffic consequences.”
Schuller said the city is also considering reducing the speed limit permanently from 25 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour in specific areas in town to reduce traffic-related incidents and increase safety for walkability. The proposed slowdown areas would be “a five-block area between Avenue D and Cedar, Historic Downtown Snohomish and First Street,” he said.
The city will seek public feedback on this idea in the near future. Schuller outlined the report to the City Council and how the sales tax levy for the Transportation Benefit District (TBD), which voters approved in 2011.
The 10-year sales tax levy has helped fund the city’s major street overlay and pavement improvement projects.
“The TBD is wonderful but it’s not going to overlay every single road within the city within that 10 years. It’s just impossible,” Schuller said.
The full scope of that funding and future for the next five years will be further discussed at the next City Council workshop Feb. 7.
“During the Recession, and the years coming out of the Recession, we had really zero dollars for both of those,
but council has increased that to $60,000 in this last 2017 budget to make more of an impact on our existing sidewalks and school crosswalks.”
Some repairs to sidewalks and crossings have already been made. Schuller said the two major projects were at Avenue D and Sixth Street, and at Pine Avenue by Emerson Elementary. The city wants more public input for where other projects for sidewalk or crosswalk improvements can be made, he said.
City Council members chuckled at some of Schuller’s quips about traffic and self-driving cars, but also had serious comments.
Many council members spoke about concerns with First and Second streets, and  a few council members said they support lowering area speed limits.
Council critic Morgan Davis said something can be done about speed limits and street lighting right now.
“What’s the hold up?” Davis asked. He said the area is currently too dim and dangerous for pedestrians and drivers alike.

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