LAKE STEVENS — The state launches a survey Monday aimed at those who brave one of the region’s worst commutes.
Survey results will help guide planning for an interchange justification report, the first step in a long, expensive process to identify a permanent fix for the interchange of U.S. 2, Highway 204 and 20th Street SE.
Vehicles from the three well-traveled arteries are funneled onto two lanes at the trestle in order to cross soggy slough lands and the Snohomish River toward Everett and I-5. Drivers spend about 15 minutes on average trying to work through the clog during the height of the morning commute.
“This is an opportunity for us to see what people are experiencing out there on a day-to-day basis,” said Kris Olsen, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation. “We know it’s congested. But what other things are they experiencing?”
Most questions focus on personal experiences. A key question asks whether a driver’s travel time through the interchange has changed in the last five years and, if so, by how much.
There also are questions asking what it would take to motivate a driver to carpool, vanpool or take transit — or to do so more often.
An open-ended question allows participants to write in the kind of improvements they’d like to see at the interchange.
The online survey is accessible through April 17 at http://tinyurl.com/TrestleStudy.
Input from a project support team — made up of representatives from Snohomish County, Community Transit and the cities of Lake Stevens, Everett, Snohomish, Monroe and Marysville — also will be folded into the interchange justification report.
“We’ll develop a whole range of potential improvements,” Olsen said. “Those could range from shorter-range, lower-cost projects to longer-term projects.”
One interim idea already has gained support and the promise of funding.
The $2.6 million “Jump Start” project, promoted by Lake Stevens city leaders, would allow carpools and vanpools to skip the interchange by taking an Ebey Island road that connects to the trestle by an existing ramp midway down the span.
The full list of ideas will be passed on to the Legislature for consideration. Initial ideas are expected this summer; the final report is due in spring 2018.
The interchange justification report is a federal requirement, and thus the first wonky step in forging a long-term solution. As Department of Transportation spokesman Travis Phelps put it last year: “It helps set the stage for an actual project.”
Lawmakers last year set aside $1.5 million for the report work. This year, they show they’re willing to chip in $1.8 million to the “Jump Start” program if it gets approval to move ahead.
Finding the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to fix the trestle is another matter, one that has dogged budget-writers for more than a decade.
Earlier studies pinned a large-scale fix at roughly $750 million. Local leaders in 2010 conceded tolls might be necessary to get a trestle fix. But state lawmakers weren’t ready to go there on U.S. 2 at the time.
The survey does not ask about support or preferences for sources of funding.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3432.