Best time to hit the U.S. 2 trestle: Crowdsourcing a ‘magic minute’

So what’s the best time to hit the trestle?

This question came up for me following another great-idea-no-can-do from a Street Smarts reader.

I’ve heard tale of a “magical minute” — hit the westbound U.S. 2 trestle before it, and you’re home-free; hit the trestle after it, and you’re stuck.

So I asked a few Lake Stevens folks about their own timing efforts for the morning trek to I-5.

“My magic time for the terrible trestle is about 5:30 a.m.,” said Stacy Peterson, who must leave her house by 5:20 a.m. to make it across and snag a parking spot at Everett Station for the transit ride to Seattle.

“When there is an accident on the trestle, you might as well go home,” she added. “It and the surrounding areas get so backed up. (On a recent day) it took me two hours just to get into Everett, then I had to commute to downtown Seattle. It was not a good day to commute.”

Amy Kass says her Tuesday commute is the trickiest, with work in Everett starting at 8 a.m. If she leaves her house by 7:10 a.m., she can drop off her son at child care and still get to work on time.

When she gets to the daycare, she pulls up a WSDOT app that inputs various traffic feeds to show how bad congestion is at key Lake Stevens interchanges.

“Then I can see if 20th Street SE is all backed up, and in that case, I take a back road to Bunk Foss and get right on to Highway 2 from there. Since traffic on Highway 2 doesn’t merge, like 20th and Highway 204 do, it’s usually quicker that way,” Kass said. “The WSDOT app has saved my butt from sitting in more traffic on 20th SE on several occasions!”

It’s hard to pin down a firm go-time for the trestle, but it’s to be completely avoided during “the nightmare time” from roughly 7:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., said Julie Jodock, who commutes to Mill Creek.

“Then there are random days,” she said, recalling a recent morning when she left late, during that “nightmare time.” “I forgot to take the back road (Sunnyside) and I was on the trestle in 4 minutes. I actually called (my husband) because I needed to make sure I hadn’t entered an alternate reality.”

A neighbor noted that those once-reliable back roads are becoming just as blocked.

Indeed, at its worst, Tuesday traffic is bound to be bad no matter which route you take, going by Google Maps’ estimates.

In a no-traffic situation, it takes 7 minutes to drive from the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 204 (Frontier Village) to just over the westbound U.S. trestle onto southbound I-5. The most congested time to travel is at the 7:40 a.m. mark, when Google estimate wit will take as long as 22 minutes to drive that 5-mile distance — which also assumes there are no crashes, poor weather or other atypical speed bumps.

That’s not too far off from the time it would take if you went down Highway 9 instead, either to 20th Street SE, or even further down to the U.S. 2 on-ramp at Bunk Foss Road.

Things slowly calm from there, hitting the 7- to 12-minute range again at 8:20 a.m., according to Google Maps estimates. You’re likely to be home free by 8:40 a.m.

Is it just me, or does this start to feel like more of a job than the jobs we’re commuting to?

We’re swiping on the virtual war paint, uttering a guttural honk, and deftly maneuvering between our various weapons of choice — the clock, the traffic camera feeds, the colored lines of Google Maps, the radio station dispatches — all in an effort to elbow and bumper our way … to a cubicle.

And in a driverless future, the car itself will become a mobile cubicle.

At least at that point we can opt to take a nap while inching over Ebey Island.

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