Some safety improvements are on the way for Getchell Road.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is providing $3.1 million in grant funding for two Snohomish County projects that will support the corridor.

The funds come as part of the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.

The improvements will improve the two-lane road that is a main connecting route between Granite Falls, Arlington and Marysville.

“There are two grants that we’ve received,” said Snohomish County engineer Doug McCormick.

The first grant for $1.3 million will put in some rural road curve improvements, including some upgrades in signage.

High friction surface treatment (HFST) will also be applied to the roadway.

“Basically, HFST helps vehicles have better traction with the road surface,” said McCormick. “It’s like adding a coarser grit of sandpaper in that it gives you a stronger grip."

The second grant of $1.8 million will help fund intersection improvements at 84th Street (Getchell Road) and 163rd Avenue, which currently has two stop signs on 163rd Avenue as the primary traffic control.

“We hope to design to reduce the number of accidents and the severity of them,” said McCormick. “It is one of the local areas where we have a higher than average number of accidents."

The speed on the road contributes to the danger of collisions that happen at that intersection, said McCormick.

“It’s a pretty high speed road for us,” he said, as most county roads are around 35 mph.

The types of vehicles along that road also tend to increase the severity of the traffic collisions.

“There is a lot of truck traffic that we see along this road as well, particularly coming from Granite Falls because of the pits and quarries there,” said McCormick.

That area of the county has seen growth in the surrounding cities as well, which has increased the amount of vehicles that use the road.

“If we, in our analysis, determine there is a better solution to what we have there we hope to implement it,” said McCormick.

“During the engineering phase we will look at all the possible solutions,” he said, which include a traffic light signal or a roundabout.

“We will analyze and will make a decision on what is most effective,” he said.

A roundabout is possible as that form of intersection has many advantages.

“At a roundabout you have less severe accidents,” because there are very rarely head-on collisions and the roundabout itself tends to slow the speed of traffic, said McCormick.

Design is scheduled to start this year for any intersection changes. If right-of-way acquisitions are necessary those could take place in 2021/2022 with construction in 2023, although this timeline is not set in stone.

McCormick said the two grants are meant to help the county prevent traffic collisions. “Safety has always been a high priority for the county,” he said.

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