EVERETT – It all comes down to the detour.
State transportation officials want to rip out the 41st Street bridge over I-5 and erect a new, six-lane overpass in its place in just six months.
State officials hope that finishing the bridge in six months – and what they say is a good detour route – will convince the Everett City Council to let them close the span.
If the city says yes, construction would start in spring and the new bridge would open by Thanksgiving, said Mike Cotten, the state’s I-5 widening project director. If the answer is no, the new overpass won’t open until summer 2008.
“I do think (closure) is a better option,” Cotten said. “I’m excited about it because it gives us a chance to get a brand new intersection – $35 million worth of work – constructed within a year.”
Tonight the state will make its pitch to the Lowell community, the neighborhood that would be most affected by the closure. On Wednesday, the Transportation Department will take its case to the Everett City Council. If the council says yes, the bridge will close in May.
Cotten said the state has worked with Everett engineer Dave Davis to come up with a detour that will keep the 25,000 cars that use the 41st Street bridge moving.
Since most of the overpass’s traffic is eastbound to get on northbound I-5, the plan is to convert the Cascade View Bridge south of the 41st Street overpass into a one-way eastbound route that will connect with northbound I-5 and the Lowell neighborhood.
Lowell residents who want to get to downtown Everett or southbound I-5, however, will have to divert to Smith Avenue, duck under I-5 at 36th Street and then turn west to connect with Broadway.
The city’s staff has asked the state to add a temporary traffic light at the corner of Broadway and 36th Street to ease traffic flow.
“The request is going to the City Council with staff and administrative support,” Davis said. “This is just a real great opportunity for us to shorten the construction period.”
Residents of Everett’s Lowell neighborhood, already coping with having an I-5 exit ramp being built in their back yards, will meet today to discuss the Transportation Department’s detour plan, which could send thousands of vehicles each day through their quiet streets.
Meetings with state officials are always well attended, Lowell Neighborhood Association chairwoman Carma Collins said. She expects that the Transportation Department will field questions from frustrated residents at today’s meeting.
“It’s going to be upsetting to some people,” she said.
Closing the 41st Street bridge should mean a new overpass will be in place by Thanksgiving. The new span will be usable then, but it will take another six months for all of the new ramps to be built, and for the bridge over Broadway to be widened.
When done, the new bridge will be wider than it is long, the product of having all the exit ramps come in at an angle to meet up at just one traffic light – a newer bridge design that gets traffic through an intersection quicker.
The work is being done as part of the $260 million bid to add carpool and all-purpose lanes between the Boeing Freeway and U.S. 2 by 2008. The project also includes building a right-lane, elevated exit from northbound I-5 to Broadway, which will open this spring.
Reporter Lukas Velush: 425-339-3449 or firstname.lastname@example.org.