Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I've received a ton of email, phone calls and letters for a very long time from commuters on State Route 522 (SR 522) from Maltby north to the Snohomish River bridge asking why this two-lane section of the highway still has not been expanded to four lanes. During the time when the Legislature is not in session, I travel this highway nearly every day. So I share in the same frustration and congestion that most of you do. I am devoting this e-newsletter to this issue to answer questions and hopefully light a fire under those responsible so that we can move this long-awaited project forward.
First, I think it is important to provide some history to give a perspective of why this important corridor remains unfinished.
For many years, the north-south highway from Monroe through Woodinville was called “The Death Highway.” In a press release back in 1994 touting preliminary engineering funding for SR 522, then-Rep. Jeanine Long noted, “The highway is heavily traveled and difficult to cross. Many people have died on this highway because of head-on collisions occurring from poor visibility and its narrow conditions.”
Here's a map to help you understand the area.
The western edge of the 39th Legislative District (pink section on the map), which I represent, borders along the Snohomish River at SR 522. On the other side of the Snohomish River Bridge heading toward Seattle is the 1st Legislative District (shaded in light green).
The southwest end of SR 522 gets completed
From 1998 to 2001, the Washington State Department of Transportation widened SR 522 from two lanes to four lanes (green highway line on map above) from Highway 9 to Paradise Lake Road.
Completion of the northeast end of SR 522 in the 39th District
The majority of the fatality accidents on SR 522 happened between Monroe and the Snohomish River Bridge in my district. So when I took office in 2003, I immediately began working to secure funding to widen the two-lane section of SR 522 in the 39th District into four lanes. The money for that section was approved by the Legislature, but I had to fight hard to keep it intact, because in 2009, Gov. Chris Gregoire tried to tap into it to cover cost overruns on the Seattle-area mega projects. Fortunately, we were able to stop her from taking the money.
Construction started in 2011 on widening the highway from the Snohomish River to Monroe, including a new Snohomish River Bridge. It was opened to traffic by 2014. So please note, that all of State Route 522 within the 39th District is now fully completed as a four-lane highway.
The area of question is the bottleneck two-lane corridor between the new Snohomish River bridge southwest to Maltby — which is entirely in the 1st District.
The bottleneck in the 1st District
In 2003, as the Legislature was planning improvements to SR 522 through the Nickel Funding Package, it made an agreement with Snohomish County: the state would complete the portions of the highway from Paradise Lake Road to Highway 9 and from the Snohomish River Bridge to Monroe. The state would even complete the overpass at Echo Lake Road if Snohomish County government would provide the funding for the section of Paradise Lake Road to the Snohomish River Bridge. The Legislature then gave Snohomish County several options to raise funds, including the ability to raise the gas tax, and creation of a Regional Transportation Investment District (RTID) to seek funds from local voters.
Snohomish County fails to live up to its agreement on SR 522 funding
In 2006, the Echo Lake Road interchange was opened to traffic — paid from state funds. Snohomish County drafted a list of projects under its newly-formed RTID. In November 2007, voters turned down a proposed $17.8 billion Snohomish County Roads and Transit package, which included $127 million to widen Highway 522 to the Snohomish River Bridge and to add a Paradise Lake Road interchange. That was eight years ago. In the meantime, Snohomish County has done nothing to hold up its end of the agreement.
The most recent state transportation budget set aside $10 million to design the Paradise Lake Road interchange, which is now managed with a traffic signal. But it doesn't address the unfinished widening project. And the money won't be released until 2025. There's no construction money earmarked.
- The portion of SR 522 in the 39th District I represent is fully completed.
- The portion of SR 522 under the Nickel Package and other state funding, including the Echo Lake Road interchange and the four-lane highway from Highway 9 to just Paradise Lake Road was completed by the state.
- Remaining incomplete in the 1st District (which is represented by the vice-chair of the House Transportation Committee), is Snohomish County's funding portion, which includes the corridor of SR 522 from the Snohomish River Bridge to and including the Paradise Lake Road interchange.
Get more information on video and radio
VIDEO: Watch my video for more information on State Route 522.
RADIO: Please tune in to 90.7 FM – KSER in Everett tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 16) at 4 p.m. as I talk with News Director Ed Bremer about this issue.
What you can do
Click on the links below to contact those government officials who should be involved. Tell them you want the uncompleted State Route 522 bottleneck funded and finished!
We've all waited too long for completion of the 522 corridor. And we're still waiting in traffic. It's time to get this project underway so that you can get to work on time every day and be home to spend more time with your family.
I welcome your questions and comments.
In your service,