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Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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New stretch links Highway 9, I-5

Times Snohomish County bureau

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An Oct. 16 story in The Times of Snohomish County provided additional details about the new road. To read it, go to www.seattletimes.com and search for "road to traffic relief," with quotation marks around the phrase.

At its 40-mph speed limit, it takes about two minutes to drive the new extension of the Cathcart Way corridor. But it took about 25 years for that to be possible.

Opened Friday, the one-mile extension of 132nd Street Southeast directly connects Interstate 5 and Highway 9.

It's formally known as both the 128th Street Southeast-132nd Street Southeast East-West Travel Corridor and the Cathcart Way Corridor, but regardless of the name, the effect is a major new east-west route across the county.

Before the final section of road was linked, there was no direct east-west access between Highway 9 and I-5 in the southern part of Snohomish County. The only way between the two followed twisting two-lane roads.

At Friday's dedication, County Executive Bob Drewel noted that it took decades to make the link possible.

"The point I'm trying to make is that this started in 1978," said Drewel, who noted that 11 alternatives or environmental-impact statements needed to be prepared before work began, with construction of the final section taking little more than a year.

Peter Hahn, the county's public-works director, noted that passage of a 1990 gas-tax increase provided money for much of the $23.5 million project. He hopes a similar gas-tax increase by this year's Legislature will lead to more such projects over the next 10 to 15 years.

Final funding came from a variety of sources, including nearby developers who paid about $3.2 million to help improve access to such housing developments as Monte Vista and Willow Creek.

After the speeches were done and a ceremonial ribbon was cut, a car driven by Jeff Kelley-Clark, the county's solid-waste director, made the first official trip over the route. The route passes a site that once was planned for a landfill.

The extension is important because of the way Snohomish County traffic patterns have developed, with Highway 2 forming the only major east-west route south of Marysville. The Hewitt Avenue trestle, where Highway 2 passes over the Snohomish River and Ebey Slough, is the linchpin in that route.

Every weekday morning, thousands of cars jam the trestle on their way from growing communities around Lake Stevens, Snohomish and Monroe to Everett or I-5.

Highway 2 carried an average of 19,000 vehicles a day in 2001, a 19 percent rise from seven years earlier.

Though there's no way of determining how much traffic will be drawn off the trestle and onto 132nd Street Southeast, traffic engineers predict the new link will reach about half of Highway 2's current volume in less than 10 years.

Peyton Whitely: 260-464-2259 or pwhitely@seattletimes.com

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