By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published May 30, 2012
Property owner wants more answers before letting city onto farmland to fix Lowell-Larimer Road
EVERETT - Neighbors want the Lowell-Larimer Road fixed, but what would be a quick fix is being stalled by a hesitant property owner.
For the past year, a section of the Lowell-Larimer Road has been narrowed to one lane because of safety concerns. The shoulder of the road collapsed in a landslide.
The repair is a quick fix, but requires the city to get permission to come onto an adjacent landowner’s property to do the work. The slope next to the road is too steep to do the repair anywhere else.
Securing permission to get onto the property in the 5900 block of the Lowell-Larimer Road is the problem. The landowner hasn’t budged yet, and the city says the issue is now in the eleventh hour to complete the fix before the rainy fall season.
The landowner, Hugh Henrickson, said he wants the road fixed, but he wants the city to answer all of his concerns first. He may have reason to hesitate.
The city would be removing 20 trees and putting up a rock wall on Henrickson’s land to bolster the slope. The city acknowledges repairing the slope might damage Henrickson’s water and gray water lines during construction, and the wall would take up space in the only area Henrickson can build a house. Neighbors said letting big trucks drive through his farmland to get to the landslide could damage his prime agricultural land.
“There’s nobody more than me who wants that road fixed,” Henrickson said, calling the problem complicated.
The city wants to begin construction around August or September.
“We all want to get it done, believe me, and shoot for August, but it’s complicated,” Henrickson said.
The city’s been talking with Henrickson for the past year, but neither party can reach an agreement. The issue is now down to the eleventh hour, city properties manager Mike Palacios said.
The city’s already spent twice the normal amount of time walking through Henrickson’s “laundry list of issues,” Palacios said.
In a worst-case scenario, the city could condemn the property through eminent domain, Palacios said. That requires City Council action.
Neighbors in the Lowell area want the road fixed as soon as possible. The Lowell-Larimer Road cuts diagonally across fields as a bypass to get from state Route 9 to the south entrance of the Lowell neighborhood.
At the landslide site, traffic is controlled by stop signs, and neighbors said that’s an accident waiting to happen.
“To me, it’s not safe,” resident Sheri Lungstrom said. “I think it’s terribly unsafe.”
Some Lowell residents want a traffic signal put in to avoid a car crash.
There hasn’t been a crash yet, but the lane closure makes the road scary at night, one woman said.
The city could put in a light if the neighborhood wants it, but traffic flow would become worse, city associate engineer Grace Kane told the neighborhood. The traffic light may not respond to cars waiting, for example, Kane said.
The city has $4 million set aside to fix this landslide and two others in the city.
In April, the City Council approved setting aside that money to cover fixing landslides that closed a road to Howarth Park, the Stratton Hill neighborhood and this project.
The city estimates it will cost $450,000 to fix the Lowell-Larimer Road.