Lefthand turns into Old Town may get the boot

Turning into Second and Third streets from SR 525 would be prohibited
By Brandon Gustafson | Jun 26, 2019

One of the main concerns brought up time and time again with the new ferry terminal – especially from Old Town residents – has been traffic.

Something you’ll hear is that they want to keep ferry traffic out of residential neighborhoods, and that they’re worried more cars trying to go east to Everett will try and turn left off Mukilteo Speedway onto either Second or Third streets, rather than driving up to the light at Fifth Street and turning left.

Councilmember Steve Schmalz has brought this issue up in the past, and after repeated efforts, finally got the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to look into possibly prohibiting those turns from happening.

At the council’s Monday, June 24, work session, Public Works Director Mick Matheson gave a quick update on what making those turns illegal entails.

In an email from one of WSDOT’s engineers, Miguel Gavino, he said the agency has collected data on southbound left-hand turns at Second, Third, and Fifth streets, and that WSDOT believes “safety and flow conditions … are acceptable; hence, do not warrant expending state resources for traffic devices, which are allocated based on need.”

“They don’t see an issue doing it, but they’re not necessarily in favor of it,” Matheson said.

In order for WSDOT to consider making those turns illegal, the City has a few steps it needs to take.

First, it would need to do public outreach to get feedback from citizens and businesses that could be affected by the change.

After that, the City would have to send a letter to WSDOT’s Northwest Region,  justifying why the change is necessary, and committing to police department enforcement prohibiting the turns.

Next, it falls to the WSDOT, which has to assemble a “calendar action” package consisting of all documents from the City of Mukilteo. That package would then be sent to WSDOT’s headquarters in Olympia, where it’s either approved or disapproved.

Additionally, the Mukilteo City Council would have to adopt an ordinance for the proposed regulation prohibiting the turns, and provide WSDOT with a copy. That ordinance needs to be approved before WSDOT would approve the potential change.

Councilmember Sarah Kneller, who lives in Old Town, said outreach will be important because businesses like Red Cup Café and Sully’s may have different views on the matter than citizens who live there. Additionally, she said she’s heard from neighbors that traffic in the neighborhoods has improved since the Boys & Girls Club changed locations.

Council Vice President Anna Rohrbough said the City needs to consider whether it wants a business community in Old Town or not.

“If we don’t want that, this (prohibiting those turns) is what we do. If we want a business community, we have to look at this differently. We can’t prevent all traffic everywhere,” she said.

Schmalz said that, at the end of the day, it’s up to the rest of the council whether to go on with this, but said he was just relaying what he’s heard from residents, especially those who attend Ferry Advisory Committee meetings.

“It won’t cost much to do public outreach,” he said “And with traffic, this all changes once the new terminal comes in.”

Schmalz noted that with where the current terminal is located, cars are able to get south on Mukilteo Speedway fairly quickly, but with the new terminal’s location, drivers trying to go east to Everett may be more inclined to cut through Old Town.

“They’ll be looking to exit quickly. We should be talking to the people who live down there,” he said. “If it’s not important to the council, that’s fine. I’m just reporting what people have requested.”

The council will discuss the topic later this summer, and multiple councilmembers said they want to see the data that Gavino mentioned in his email, and that they want to hear from Police Chief Cheol Kang about enforcing the potential change.

 

 

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