By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — Work on the big overpass project at Bickford Avenue and U.S. 2 in Snohomish is close to being finished.
Crews are building new ramps on the south side of the highway, and the new interchange could be open by the middle of next month, said Kris Olsen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.
That’s a little bit ahead of the originally projected completion date of fall 2013. Work on the $22 million project began a little more than a year ago.
Its feature is an overpass that will carry drivers headed from Bickford Avenue onto westbound U.S. 2. Currently, drivers headed from Bickford toward Everett must dart across the eastbound lanes of U.S. 2, turn left and quickly merge.
The intersection was the site of 13 accidents from 2006 to 2010, including eight collisions involving drivers turning left from Bickford onto U.S. 2, according to the Transportation Department.
Eastbound drivers headed from U.S. 2 to Bickford formerly veered off directly onto the road. During construction the exit was temporarily moved farther east and forms a sharper angle. The new exit will be similar to the old one, but elevated.
Access from Bickford Avenue to U.S. 2, and from the highway to Bickford, will be shut off for about 10 days in September while crews finish up the project, Olsen said. The nearest way off and onto the highway will be at Highway 9, about a mile to the east.*
When the intersection reopens, the project will essentially be finished and drivers will use the new overpass and ramps, Olsen said.
Three new ramps are being built to connect to the overpass. In addition to the new eastbound ramp onto Bickford, another ramp will carry drivers making right-turns from Bickford to eastbound U.S. 2. A third will carry drivers from the overpass to merge into the right lane of westbound U.S. 2.
Eastbound drivers who exit to Bickford by mistake, or who change their minds, will be able to turn left and take the overpass back toward Everett, Olsen said.
“You really didn’t have that option before,” she said.
Deteriorating culverts under U.S. 2 were replaced as part of the work.
Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak said she’s been hearing positive comments about the project.
“I think most of us who live in Snohomish are really happy about it, as it was a really dangerous intersection,” she said.
Jeri Redwood, shopping in the Fred Meyer complex on Bickford on Thursday, welcomed the change with one qualification.
“It’ll probably be safer, but I don’t know if it will reduce traffic. That’s all I really care about,” she said.
Olsen noted that drivers will no longer have to line up to turn left onto westbound U.S. 2, which should help ease congestion.
“It’s clearly going to make this intersection more functional,” Guzak said.
The project leaves room for an offramp to be added some time in the future for westbound drivers on U.S. 2 who wish to exit to Bickford, Olsen said.
The temporary exit to Bickford has been an adjustment for drivers, requiring they slow down more to negotiate the sharper angle.
“It’s a little bumpy and a little strange but that’s what we have to go through to get what we want and what we need there for safety,” Guzak said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; email@example.com.