Steve Hobbs (Left) and Mike Hope (Right) testify to make the Frontier Village intersection better for drivers.
In recent past, the City of Snohomish and the City of Lake Stevens have had disagreements over land, however, the two cities have come together to support transportation issues on Highway 9 including the Snohomish River Bridge project and the redesign of the State Route 204 and Highway 9 intersection in Frontier Village.
The SR-9 Coalition, started and led by Senator Steve Hobbs, (D-Lake Stevens), is made up of experts, constituents and elected officials and was formed two years ago to address pressing transportation needs in Snohomish County.
“My job as a Senator is to facilitate the will of the people of my district, and the Frontier Village intersection issue has come up again and again at my transportation summits, in meetings with district cities and via constituent contact,” Hobbs said. “Leaders and concerned citizens from Lake Stevens and Snohomish agreed to team up, form a coalition and support each other’s goals.”
Last year, the group focused on the Snohomish River Bridge and this year have focused their efforts on the intersection at Frontier Village and Highway 204. Both projects are part of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s SR-9 Route Development plan, but Hobbs’ legislation has helped to move up the timetable on each project.
“I’ve been very pleased with the cooperative attitude exhibited by the SR-9 Coalition member cities. When we started this effort two years ago, it was obvious that unless we formed a united front as a region, as opposed to a collection of individual cities, we had very little chance of exerting influence in Olympia,” Hobbs said. “However, through working together and supporting the shared goals of our SR-9 corridor cities, we have seen success, and I think that the success will continue as long as we continue to work as a team.”
Last week Senator Hobbs along with Representative Mike Hope, (D-Lake Stevens) joined Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little, City Administrator Jan Berg, City Councilmember and Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce President Marcus Tageant, Police Chief Randy Celori, Lake Stevens School District Board member John Boerger and Owen Carter, Dep. Director of Public Works at Snohomish County all testified in support of the Frontier Village intersection project.
The project also received written support from the City of Snohomish, which was entered as testimony.
The bill, known as Senate Bill 6842, would allocate $5 million toward the planning and design for the Frontier Village intersection improvement on State Route 9.
“As the only highway running parallel to Interstate 5 in Snohomish County, Highway 9 is an important lifeline for many of us in the area,” Hope said. “Steve and I want to ensure the funding is provided to fix this dangerous intersection with Highway 204.”
For residents who live in the city and use the Frontier Village shopping center, the problems with leaving the shopping center are obvious.
“The intersection has always been a challenge. The entrance works better then trying to exit,” Mayor Vern Little said. “In the past it worked ok because most of the residents were local and used it weekly so it was less confusing. But today with our larger population it is not anyone’s favorite intersection.”
“Obviously, this is a flawed intersection, with two busy State highways coming to and abrupt T. I’m not a traffic expert, I just know what I have heard from constituents, and I know from personal experience that there are some issues coming in and out of Frontier Village,” Hobbs said. How this will be addressed is in the hands of the planners, as it should be.”
For now, the expectation is to get the $5 million to begin the progression process.
“At this point in the process, we are working to allocate funds to begin the project summary, which will determine what is needed.
WSDOT and the City of Lake Stevens will have to work together to determine the intended outcome,” Hobbs said.
The SR-9 Coalition is hopeful that the funds will come through to begin repairing the flawed intersection soon.
“There was no opposition to the project, so we look forward to he funding coming through so the city and the county can get to work,” Hope said.
“Changing this intersection will change the look of Frontier Village in the years to come. With proper flow of traffic we believe this will bring more economic development to the area. Allowing flow of traffic to be smooth and safe will bring more shopping opportunities to the area for our residents and more patrons to our business community. The design is critical,” Little said. “We will be working with the business community and the residents to get input before ever proceeding with the final design. We are working with WDOT to do our best to change the intersection at the same time the widening project of Highway 9 and 204 is scheduled.”
Different parties and cities have been able to come together for the good of a constituency and with their efforts great changes are inevitable.
“Mike testified at the hearing in support of my bill because Mike and I have a history of working together in the best interest of the district, it’s really as simple as that,” Hobbs said. “Mike’s a very courteous guy, and anytime the mayor and staff of two of your cities are in Olympia in support of a bill, Mike is going to take note of that and roll out the welcome mat. I appreciate his support on this issue, and he knows he can count on me as well. We definitely keep the lines of communication open at all times.”
The measure now awaits a vote in the Senate Transportation Committee.