SULTAN, Wash. -- It’s a small town in Snohomish County that you might have passed through on the way over the Cascades. Sultan is growing, and more and more people are moving there for affordable housing.
Linda Anderson has been living in a development off Sultan Basin Road for 8 years now.
“Everything is growing around here, all the small towns are becoming bigger.”
She says one reason she moved to Sultan from Carnation was that it was another small, quiet town.
“It doesn’t surprise me that it would happen eventually, but I think that I was hoping that it would take a lot longer and that there would be a little more planning on the roads before they started building all the houses.”
That small, quiet town is growing in the form of 600 new homes, with the anticipation of hundreds of additional vehicles in an area where traffic is already an issue. It's a move the mayor of Sultan says the city was required to approve.
“The growth management act mandates that we take a certain amount of growth, we don’t have a choice,” said Mayor John Seehuus.
LGI Homes has the contract for the majority of those; the developer says they hope to have 60 units done by December. Less than two miles down the road, a massive plot of land is already being developed, just waiting for 258 more homes.
The mayor says the growth is important and inevitable.
“Rooftops drive retail. The more retail we get locally, the less people have to drive out of town," Seehuus said.
While growth is good for any small town, it's a cause for growing concern for some people.
“Our local infrastructure is fine for that growth. It’s when you hit Highway 2. The city has no control or rights over Highway 2, it’s both a federal and a state highway, so it’s kind of a conundrum.”
“I don’t know how anybody is gonna get to or from Sultan," Anderson said.
Traffic along Highway 2 during the week has gotten worse over the years, but it’s tolerable. Anderson fears with more people, it won’t be.
“For every 50 homes you add, you got 100 cars minimum comin' down that road because there’s at least 2 drivers in every household," she said.
The weekends on Highway 2 when tourists are coming over the mountains, well that’s an entirely different story.
“You kind of have to run your life around the traffic.”
It might just be enough to close the book on Sultan for Linda and her husband.
“Unfortunately I think a whole lot of people are gonna have to move before they see that happen, and it just might be us.”
Mayor Seehuus says something needs to be done about the highway to accommodate all of the traffic. He says widening the highway is only a band-aid, not a solution. In the future, he says they would like to get groups of people out to Olympia to rally for a permanent change to Highway 2.