Council eNewsletter
NEWS  from Councilmember John Koster  July 28, 2009



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John Koster's eNewsletter
 John Koster
Snohomish County Council
3000 Rockefeller Ave., M/S 609
Everett, Washington 98201
8th floor, Robert J. Drewel Building
Phone: 425-388-3494
E-Mail: [email protected]

Barbara Chapman, Legislative Aide


The Ribbon Cutting ceremony for the new Granite Falls Alternate Route (GFAR) took place on July 2nd.  The Granite Falls Alternate Route project discussions began as early as 1994, and have been in process formally since 1997.  The GFAR is the culmination of an extensive public involvement, review and funding process to identify and build an alternative route around the City of Granite Falls in an effort to reduce heavy truck traffic, congestion, noise and air pollutions and improve safety.


Participants in this process include:  Snohomish County Public Works, City of Granite Falls, WSDOT, Federal Highway Administration, Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, Public Works Trust Fund, former Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel, Congressman Rick Larsen, Senator Patty Murray, the Washington State Legislature, Granite Falls School District, Granite Falls Chamber of Commerce, Washington State Transportation Improvement Board and more.


The project originally projected to cost $33.7 million, went to bid in May and came in significantly under estimate at $28.8 million.


Preliminary Engineering (Design) $4.543 M

Right-of-Way (Property Acquisition) $6.131 M

Construction Cost $18.088 M

Project Total: $28.762 M


It is estimated that construction of the bypass will create 50 jobs, with more jobs possible as Granite Falls moves ahead with downtown redevelopment.


  • More than 4.5 million tons of aggregate is currently trucked annually through downtown Granite Falls
  • In 2005 more than 6 million tons of gravel passed through Granite Falls
  • Equates to 1 truck and trailer every 30 seconds or 2,000 trucks and trailers each day
  • Current downtown route was designed in the 1940's
  • New route is 1.9 miles
  • New route will divert traffic away from downtown Granite Falls
  • Reduce travel times and barriers to freight movement and other traffic
  • New route will increase traffic capacity by 30-50%
  • Improve access for visitors to the National Forest
  • Increase mobility and safety for local traffic and pedestrians
  • Improve response time and access for emergency vehicles
  • Support economic redevelopment of the commercial core and region
  • Will connect Mountain Loop Highway to SR 92
  • Installation of 3 roundabouts will provide a slower and steady flow of traffic, resulting in less idling and reduced air pollution
  • Roundabouts reduce fatalities by 90%, reduce accident severity by 76% and pedestrian accidents by 30-40%
  • Road will consist of two 12-foot wide travel lanes with 8-foot wide shoulders.

Granite Falls Alternate Route


The bridge over the South Fork Stillaguamish River on the Ice Caves Trail washed out in the November 2006 flood.  The new bridge ribbon cutting took place on July 10th, which again allows access to the caves.


The original bridge was built in 1969 at a cost of $24,000.  Cost of new bridge: $425,000.


The new bridge is made of aluminum and spans 224 feet.  It is higher, longer, and lighter than the old bridge.  It utilizes three concrete piers built in 1969.  It also has one less pier in the river channel, as one that washed out wasn't replaced. 


Funding for the repairs is from the Western Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration under the ERFO (Emergency Relief - Federally Owned) program.  So far, ERFO funds have only been approved for this bridge and bridges washed out in the 2003 flood on the Pacific Crest Trail.


The final design and fabrication of the bridge was completed earlier in the year by the Gator Bridge Co.  When completed, the bridge was trucked from Florida to the Ice Caves trailhead. 


The on-site preparation and installation work was completed by Twin Oaks Construction, White Salmon, WA.  Once the bridge arrived, seven bridge sections were flown into place by helicopter.  Construction took approximately five weeks, including preparation and rebuilding the approaches to the bridge.


The one-mile trail to the Big Four Ice Caves is one of the most popular hikes on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  It is designated a National Recreation Trail.

Before the old bridge washed out more than 50,000 people used the trail annually

The caves are formed by stream channels running under the melting snowfield, and normally don't appear until temperatures rise in summer.

Winter storms and avalanches during the last two years damaged other sections of the trail beyond the new bridge. While workers have cleared the debris, and the trail is passable, there is more work to do.  Several small bridges need to be replaced and the trail will not be wheelchair accessible to its end until next year.  Right now it is accessible to just beyond the bridge.





July 22, 5:00 pm is the close of written testimony (except for the new amendments

re/FCC and Urban Centers that were not advertised for the July 8th Hearing).

August 10, 3:00 pm is the continuation for limited oral testimony regarding the new amendments put forth by Councilmen Gossett (FCC) and Cooper (Urban Centers).

August 10, 3:00 pm is ALSO a full public hearing on the Pacific Ridge, SW 7 proposal (Gossett introduced this ordinance July 8th).

August 12, 1:30 pm is when the council will begin its deliberations on all of the docket proposals.


Nothing scheduled for August 13th or 14th - there was some confusion over dates at the end of the July 8th hearing.

August 10th and August 12th hearings will be held in the Jackson Board Room, 8th Floor, Drewel Building.




Ownership of the Wenberg State Park was transferred to Snohomish County on Thursday, July 16th.  Originally a 20+ acre county park, Wenberg was transferred to the State in 1947.  Wenberg now contains 46 acres through land donation from the Wenberg family.  Wenberg contains the only boat launch on Lake Goodwin.  Snohomish County now owns and operates two parks on Lake Goodwin which will complement each other.  The 75 campsites at Wenberg bring the county's total campsites offering to 191.  Amenities include a bathhouse, 2 restrooms, 2 picnic shelters, a concession stand, 2-lane boat launch, 465 foot swimming area and 1,140 feet of shoreline.


Wenberg County Park




The next Business Roundtable will be held Thursday, October 1st at 7:00 am at the Monte Cristo Hotel, 1507 Wall Street, Everett, WA.  The speaker will be Dr. Arun Raha, Chief Economist for the State of Washington.  He is very knowledgeable and an excellent, entertaining speaker...


I hope you found this eNEWSLETTER to be informative and useful. You can make it even more valuable by suggesting topics and issues for future newsletters. Please contact me at 425-388-3494, or e-mail [email protected]. If you would like to share this newsletter, select the Forward email link below.

John Koster
Snohomish County Council