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Published: Monday, October 31, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Access to the U.S. 2 trestle is safer, less congested

Andy Kirkbride of Lake Stevens writes: I am perplexed about whether all the work that people say is to improve traffic flow on and off the U.S. 2 trestle has actually accomplished said goal.
The 41st Street on-off ramp made getting onto the eastbound trestle 10 times worse. The work being done on 20th Street SE in Lake Stevens just moved the bottleneck but does nothing to address the traffic getting on the trestle with the convergence of Highway 204 and 20th Street SE.
Seems they are spending the money in all the wrong places.

Jamie Holter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: In 2008, we wrapped up a $263 million project to improve traffic flow on I-5 through Everett between the Boeing Freeway (Highway 526) and U.S. 2. Widening the freeway with 10 miles of carpool lanes, wider shoulders, new bridges and the new ramps at 41st Street has, in fact, improved traffic flow and reduced collisions for the entire area which includes ramps to U.S. 2 and 41st Street.
Without this work, the Everett area would be more congested and that congestion would spill on to U.S. 2.
For more information, go to http://tinyurl.com/EverettProject.
In addition to that work, we have changed the way traffic flows on U.S. 2. Eastbound traffic can use the shoulders of U.S. 2 during the evening rush hour to get more vehicles onto and across the trestle when it's needed most. The congestion relief from this pilot project on the trestle has been noticeable.
As for work to widen or rebuild U.S. 2, the chance of that happening anytime in the near future is highly unlikely. The current economic climate allows for very few projects. It's up to the Legislature to prioritize and fund work for the transportation department.
Work near 20th Street in Lake Stevens is being done by Snohomish County, but we are currently studying possible improvements to the intersection of Highway 204 and Highway 9 with the city of Lake Stevens.
You can find that information at http://tinyurl.com/SR9Intersection.

Mick Monken, public works director for Lake Stevens, responds: If you look at 20th Street SE only as a connection route to U.S. 2 from the eastside, it is understandable how it could be viewed as only moving a bottleneck problem, at least for westbound movement. The street is more than just a connection to the trestle. There are three primary reasons for doing the 20th Street SE improvement: safety, capacity and local access movements.
The improvements have made turns onto and off of 20th safer along that section of the corridor. The additional center lane and outside lane have significantly improved the safety of these turns. Another benefit has been the ability to move to and from Highway 9 from 20th Street SE.
The interchange of U.S. 2, Highway 204 and 20th Street SE is a bottleneck. Due to the high costs of any construction here, it is likely to take many years before we see a solution. In the meantime, improvements to the part of 20th Street SE not yet improved, the western part, are in design. This design must address both immediate safety needs and consider possible future improvement to U.S. 2. In an ideal world, the improvements to 20th Street SE and U.S. 2 would happen concurrently. In reality, this rarely happens. It does often result in creating a roadway improvement that doesn't seem to quite make sense.
In the case of 20th Street SE, most of the improvements installed function very well today but some will have to come in the future.

Email us at stsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your city of residence.

Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts.
Story tags » EverettLake StevensI-5U.S. 2Highway 9Highway 204

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