Monday, July 18, 2011
|Seattle Times||Daily Journal of Commerce Headline|
|US builders’ outlook rises after hitting 2011 low||WSDOT starts $160M project to widen SR 522 near Monroe|
|Borders fate to be decided this week||The Washington State Department of Transportation has kicked off a road project in Snohomish County that has been 20 years in the making.
Crews will widen a four-mile stretch of state Route 522 in Monroe from two to four lanes, build a 1,700-foot bridge over the Snohomish River and remove 300,000 cubic yards of rock by blasting.
The $160 million project is mostly funded by the 2003 Gas Tax Nickel Funding. Scarsella Bros. of Kent is the contractor. Scarsella’s $73 million bid was 15 percent below the engineer’s estimate. Design, engineering and environmental work were done in-house by WSDOT.
WSDOT broke ground this month and expects to complete construction near the end of 2014.
The four-mile stretch of road goes from just west of the Snohomish River Bridge to 197th Avenue Southeast in Monroe. Four new bridges will be built as well as a median barrier to separate traffic, a roundabout at 164th Street Southeast, a noise wall, a wildlife crossing, and new lighting and signs. As part of a separate project, WSDOT is building a new direct ramp from eastbound SR 522 to eastbound U.S. 2.
The new Snohomish River Bridge will be built just north of the existing bridge. The new bridge will carry westbound traffic and be nine feet higher than the existing bridge.
Detention ponds will be added to collect and filter rainwater from the highway, and slowly release it into creeks reducing the potential for flooding.
Bronlea Mishler, WSDOT spokesperson, said the project is needed badly. New development has grown around the area and the road is undersized.
“It is no longer a little, rural country road. It is now serving a fairly large population of drivers,” she said. “It’s going to make it wider, safer for everyone and they’re going to be able to get to and from with less congestion.”
Safety is a big focus because crossover collisions and congestion-related accidents have increased. According to WSDOT, there were 92 collisions on this stretch of SR 522 from 2005 to 2009, including three that were fatal and one that involved serious injuries.
Rock blasting west of the highway will have an impact on residents. There are two areas where rock blasting is required to remove 300,000 cubic yards of material. WSDOT’s website says this is about 25,000 dump truck loads.
WSDOT will close the highway in both directions from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on weekdays starting in September for blasting. Mishler said emergency vehicles will be escorted through but the highway will be closed to others. The area doesn’t have many good detours. Mishler said an extensive outreach effort is being conducted to let residents know about the plan.
This project is the second largest in terms of total cost in the “nickel” program and is the second to last nickel project to start construction in Snohomish County.
It was first identified as a potential project in the early 1990s. Mishler said it takes a long time for a project of this scope to go through design, review, environmental issues and funding.
“It’s not quite as easy as saying ‘let’s widen that road.’ In this case, it took quite a long time.”
For more information or traffic updates, visit http://1.usa.gov/rcVPC3.
The new Snohomish River Bridge will be built just north of the existing bridge. Photo courtesy of Washington State Department of Transportation.
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