A pedestrian bridge over I-5 in south Everett that has stood unused for more than a year should open to walkers, bikers and joggers early next year.
After several delays, construction has started on ramps that will allow Snohomish County to move the Interurban Trail off dangerous 128th Street SE and onto the so-called bridge to nowhere. The bridge is scheduled to open in late February.
The pedestrian overpass was built at a cost of $2 million without ramps more than a year ago so that Snohomish County could take advantage of one-time federal grant money.
Delays over picking a route, deciding on a temporary alignment, then struggling to get money to pay for the temporary route pushed construction back until now, officials said. It also took extra time to get prefabricated concrete retaining walls, which are in short supply.
“It has been a long journey,” said Russ East, assistant regional administrator for the state Department of Transportation in Snohomish and King counties. “It may seem a little odd to have the bridge sitting there unused, but it turned out to be a good decision.”
By building the bridge sooner, the county saved $500,000, because inflation drove up construction costs, he said. The state built the bridge — and will build the ramps — for the county because the project is in the state’s right-of-way.
Moving the Interurban Trail cost $4 million — the $2 million for the bridge and another $2 million to build the ramps that lead up to the bridge, East said.
The new alignment will eliminate the biggest and most dangerous chokepoint on the trail, said county public works director Steve Thomsen.
“I think you’ll see a lot more use once it’s completed,” Thomsen said.
Many trail users refuse to cross I-5, he said. Those who do cross must use a narrow sidewalk and cross several lanes that merge onto I-5.
“It’s been a major obstacle since (the trail) was built,” Thomsen said. “Many people say they don’t feel safe crossing.”
An estimated 150,000 people use the Interurban Trail per year, including many bike commuters, according to county figures. It starts at 41st Street SE and Colby Avenue in Everett and follows I-5 south to near Shoreline.
“Crossing I-5 is a huge barrier up and down the whole corridor,” said Kristin Kinnamon, a member of Bicycle Alliance of Washington and a bicycle commuter. “This is the biggest barrier on the corridor.”
The new trail alignment hugs I-5 on the east side of the freeway, a temporary route that will be used until the 128th Street overpass is rebuilt, something that may not happen for another 10 years, said Patty Michaud, a DOT spokeswoman. The temporary trail, scheduled to open in February, will be in the way when the overpass is expanded, she said.
The permanent route cuts through private property to which Snohomish County was not able to get right-of-way in time for this project, Thomsen said. He said the county expects to eventually get access to that property.
Reporter Lukas Velush: 425-339-3449 or email@example.com.