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U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen talks with Arlington city administrator Paul Ellis about local transportation projects on July 16.

 

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen visited Arlington on July 16 to tour some of the local transportation projects planned for the city.

The projects often had various funding sources, including federal funds through grant programs such as those administered by the Puget Sound Regional Council.

"The role that the federal government can play in local transportation is important because when you have projects of this magnitude for the city of Arlington they can't do it alone," said Larsen.

"That investment in infrastructure is important here," he said.

Government officials recognize that transportation projects cost a lot of money.

"I know I throw those money amounts like it's throwing pennies around, but that's what these things cost," said Larsen.

For mid-sized cities it can be tougher to get funding for projects.

"You're going up against Lynnwood and Mill Creek … King County and everyone else, and they have professional grant writers," said Arlington public works direct Jim Kelly, who noted he writes the grants and is also responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the city's water system.

Larsen said he doesn't think enough of those funds have gone to cities of Arlington's size.

"I have an ongoing effort to try to change the funding formulas to recognize these mid-sized cities," he said.

"A very small town can get $250,000 to do something or you can get millions and millions of dollars for a very large project for Sound Transit or for the county, but if you're an in-betweener there's no real pocket of money for that," he said.

Arlington officials and Larsen looked at the sites for three potential roundabouts along SR-530 from Island Crossing to downtown Arlington.

Those roundabouts are planned for Smokey Point Boulevard, 59th Avenue and 211th Place.

"A succession of roundabouts on this road would just calm traffic all along the corridor, and there's nothing else to make that happen now," said Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert.

That section of SR-530 has seen a rapid increase of traffic over the last decade.

"The traffic on this road is 2,300 vehicles a day," said Kelly. "That mostly came from all the development in this area of Snohomish County."

That increase in car traffic has made safe gaps to turn onto the road more uncommon, and therefore increased the danger for drivers, especially those trying to make a left turn.

Some small steps have been taken to alleviate the dangers around 211th Place, such as a sign indicating merging traffic.

"It just warns people, it doesn't do anything," said Kelly.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has listed the 59th Avenue and 211th Place intersections as two of the dangerous intersections in the northwest region of the state.

All three projects are expected to cost around $4 million each.

The Smokey Point Boulevard project is the furthest along and the city has installed a temporary trailer-mounted signal intersection there.

"We anticipated we would have funding available this September to construct a roundabout," said Kelly, although the city has lost some funding from the Stillaguamish Tribe for the project.

"They have two other transportation projects they're still doing, but they lost a lot of money because of COVID," said Kelly.

In addition to the roundabout projects, officials looked at a potential light signal intersection at 204th Street and 74th Avenue.

The city hopes to go out to bid this fall for the project.

"This is an area that is really growing up into an urbanized corridor," said Kelly, who said development is currently being planned to bring more residential and commercial units there.

Arlington has received funding from various sources including the Puget Sound Regional Council for the intersection, which is estimated for a construction cost of $925,000.

 

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