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Meeting about fixing 522 may discuss "what's next" as design work funded

Meeting this week
The #Finish522 effort will hold a community meeting Wednesday, June 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Monroe City Hall, 806 W. Main Street in Monroe, to hear about the progress in the Legislature and next steps.
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MONROE — Money to relieve the bottleneck where Paradise Lake Road intersects state Route 522 has accelerated as locals are making their voices heard through the #Finish522 movement.
The Legislature not only committed $12.8 million but moved the timeframe forward on an additional $10 million toward designing the new Paradise Lake interchange and widening 522.
The $10 million was scheduled to arrive in 2025 prior to local city leaders and legislators making their case. Among them, former state Sen. Guy Palumbo, a Democrat from Maltby, made 522 a priority. Palumbo left the Senate shortly after this session ended to become a lobbyist for Amazon.
There’s still lobbying work to do: There is no construction funding locked down for widening 522 or for the interchange. The Legislature writes up its next large-scale transportation budget in 2021 as part of the state’s biennial budget cycle.
The conceptual interchange eliminates the at-level intersection today and has 522 pass over Paradise Lake Road, which is state Route 524.
Drivers would feed from 524 onto 522 with on-ramps and off-ramps from state Route 524 in the preferred concept from WSDOT engineers.
Two roundabouts would be used on 524 to enter the ramps or go from one side of 522 to the other.
Broadway Avenue would be realigned as part of this concept; a new road would be built behind The Maltby Cafe and Maltby Pizza and Pasta. Yew Way would dead end near the proposed highway on-ramp/off-ramp roundabout that would be built almost on top of where today’s Maltby Road/Yew Way intersection is located.
The Legislature’s allocations now mean design and right-of-way acquisition are fully funded for both the interchange and widening work, as long as the projects being built under a “design-build” construction method, WSDOT spokeswoman Kris Olsen said.
WSDOT plans to get the projects completed on the preparation side so it can “hit the ground running” when construction money comes, Olsen said.
It will cost $90 million total to design, obtain land and construct this new interchange. Widening 522 to four lanes would also take $90 million to design and construct.
But eliminating that traffic light would be a key step to fixing  gridlock.
People who drive it say it can take upwards of 15 minutes to get through the intersection during the rush hour commute.
Both Maltby residents and Monroe commuters consider the intersection a headache, and housing growth isn’t slowing down. In Monroe, one-third of the town heads to King County to their jobs: about 20 percent head to jobs on the Eastside (Microsoft, as an example), and 15 percent commute toward Seattle,
according to 2010 Census data.
Having 522 rise over Paradise Lake Road is the most feasible option for an overpass. WSDOT notes that doing vice-versa and elevating 524 over 522 would require an unwieldy, long bridge to reach over the railroad tracks that would force businesses such as The Maltby Cafe to relocate. This idea is not on the table; WSDOT knows moving the businesses is “unacceptable to the community,” Olsen said.



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