Tram effects dominate 2022 transport outlook
The 810 Community Transit bus now ends at the Northgate light rail station in Seattle. Once the light rail stations open at Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, public transit will not venture into Seattle, freeing up thousands of hours of service for other parts of Snohomish County. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
Traffic jams almost disappeared in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a surreal time when so little was known, but people largely abandoned their routines. The trips have disappeared because the work was suspended or postponed. The buses continued to run, although the number of passengers decreased.
Traffic resumed in the second half of last year.
But as coronavirus infections rise again, perhaps things are not ready to return to their fullest shape before the pandemic.
But the coming year should be another time of transformation for the way people move around Snohomish County.
One transit agency
After years of guesswork and separate conversations, Community Transit and Everett Transit are formally examining the possibility of combining their services.
Technically, the “merger” would be an annexation approved by the voters of the town of Everett into the Snohomish County Public Transportation Benefit Area Corporation. Basically, Everett voters will have the final say on the future of the city’s bus and paratransit service.
Some of the pressing concerns are the increase in the sales tax to be adhered to relative to the improvement of the city managed service, the governance of the agencies and the integration of the assets. Everett has invested heavily in converting its diesel fleet to zero emission battery electric vehicles. Public transit is also evaluating how it could do it.
A report is expected by the middle of this year.
Eastern and northern growth
Commercial and residential growth around Arlington, Marysville and Snohomish has caused all kinds of travel problems.
People living and traveling along Highway 9 have no problem. This caused traffic jams on the side streets near Snohomish. As a road running parallel to Interstate 5 along eastern Snohomish County, the freeway is a critical line for thousands of people every day.
Further north, the development is already straining east-west links like 172nd Street NE, which is also Highway 531. Houses are under construction and large employment centers, including an Amazon distribution facility. , add vehicles to an old two-lane road.
But decongestion plans would add lanes, roundabouts and signals.
With current and projected growth, Arlington is left wondering what people want its highways to look like in the decades to come.
As people move there, public transit provides for an increase in services in these communities. This includes early planning for the Swift Gold rapid transit line between Everett and Smokey Point. Gold Line buses would arrive at each station approximately every 10 minutes on weekdays.
The Northgate Sound Transit Link light rail station opened in November and has already changed the way people travel to and from Snohomish County.
Some transit routes stop there now instead of venturing further into Seattle. The light rail provides more reliable travel time because it is not subject to the vagaries of I-5 traffic. Community Transit staff estimated to save approximately 4,000 hours of service over a year through the changes, which were redeployed to increase frequency on the 800 series routes.
In 2024, the rest will follow once the light rail stations open at Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace. All this time saved numbers to transform the agency’s network across the county.
Community transit is then planning major changes. This could mean a new express service with a higher frequency and fewer stops than standard routes between Lynnwood town center light rail station and Smokey Point transit hub or other destinations, such as along from I-405 south of Bellevue.
Another change that community transportation is exploring is on-demand service. A pilot program in Lynnwood typically centered around the Alderwood Shopping Center is expected to launch this spring.
After the streetcar opens in Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, it will take at least 13 years for the next section to reach Everett.
This gives the leaders of Everett, Lynnwood and Snohomish County all the time to influence what the stations look like and where they go.
Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin and Planning Director Yorik Stevens-Wajda sent a letter to Sound Transit with his early contributions, which included a request to build Airport Road, Southwest Everett Industrial Center, Evergreen Way and Everett as soon as possible. The latter two are currently scheduled to open in 2041 due to a projected funding gap of $ 600 million.
US 2 blues
Regional lawmakers and elected officials have for years sought funds to replace the US 2 Westbound Easel. Federal infrastructure law could help cover the estimated $ 1 billion, but the Legislature is unlikely to take a transportation package to fund it fully in the short 60-day session.
This would be part of the possible changes being considered or explored at both ends of the connection between Everett and Lake Stevens.
On the east side of the bridge, the highway 204 interchange with US 2 remains subject to state funding.
In the west, Everett is working on a $ 2.3 million exchange justification report for the connection between I-5 and US 2.
Further east on the highway, emergency response officials are advocating for traffic relief with their county and state officials.
People with disabilities have had their voices amplified through the work of the Disability Mobility Initiative this year.
The group, which is a project of Disability Rights Washington, has compiled a narrative map of the struggles of people who navigate buses, sidewalks and more in their daily lives. This resulted in a report with recommendations to improve access for about 1.7 million Washingtonians who can’t or can’t drive.
As light rail construction progresses north, trail advocates are looking to improve paved networks like the intercity trail that would allow people to cycle, ride, or walk to stations.
Traffic violation cameras
After years with a law in effect, Everett is getting closer to setting up traffic surveillance cameras.
The city collects proposals from suppliers for the operation of the program, which would then be submitted for the approval of the city council. Board member Liz Vogeli has spoken out against them and returns to a board that will welcome four new members.
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