New Snohomish stoplight to move cars, literally and monetarily

A new stoplight is coming to Snohomish to help move cars, SUVs, trucks and vans, literally and monetarily.

The signal will manage traffic along Bickford Avenue, where an average 16,100 vehicles motor daily, near Bickford Ford.

Recent work there caught Snohomish resident Ronald Smith’s attention.

“This seems strange, as this signal is not at a cross street, but at two Bickford motors parking lots?” Smith wrote in an email to The Daily Herald.

The dealership is paying for the light as part of its expansion, Snohomish city engineer Yoshihiro Monzaki said in an email. Work on the signal is almost done, then crews will begin road channelization, which is what funnels traffic to turn lanes at intersections. That should all wrap before the end of the year, Monzaki said.

But seeing a signal installed there further puzzled Smith, who said one is needed less than half a mile north at the intersection of Bickford Avenue and 52nd Street Southeast/Sinclair Avenue.

“This is a very dangerous and very hard spot to cross or turn onto Bickford Avenue, being that Sinclair/52nd (Street Southeast) comes at an angle to Bickford (Avenue) and on the Sinclair side, you are on an incline at the stop sign,” Smith said. “It is especially hard during the afternoon drive. Is there a plan to install a signal in the future? Just wondering.”

Currently, traffic on Bickford Avenue cruises through that intersection at 45 mph. Drivers coming from 52nd Street or Sinclair Avenue stop.

During peak afternoon traffic during a study in 2014, drivers waited an average of 67 seconds, according to the Snohomish Transportation Plan the city adopted in 2016. Back then, projections pinned the average delay ballooning beyond 3 minutes, 20 seconds by 2035.

The city gave that intersection’s level of service a grade of F.

To address the existing and future congestion there, Snohomish has a traffic signal in its recently-approved six-year transportation improvement program. It’ll be an involved project because 52nd Street Southeast and Sinclair Avenue intersect with Bickford Avenue askew, as opposed to more traditional perpendicular meetings. To address that, the 2016 transportation plan and the 2020 transportation program specified bringing the southwest leg (52nd Street Southeast) perpendicularly into the intersection.

The work is estimated to cost $1.47 million, according to the 2016 plan. Snohomish has not funded or scheduled the project yet, and construction costs are higher now and could rise further.

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