Everett finishing work on link to I-5

EVERETT — A new I-5 widened with carpool lanes seems to have eased traffic congestion through Everett, but access to the freeway from 41st Street SE remains bumpy.

Crews continue to tear up 41st Street SE between Colby Avenue and the new I-5 interchange, which was completed this summer. The city of Everett is spending $3.6 million widening a segment of the street from four lanes to six lanes and adding a 12-foot-wide sidewalk along the busy road, said Dongho Chang, a city traffic engineer.

The work backs up traffic, but it needs to be done to improve traffic flow to and from the new single-light interchange that channels numerous vehicles, city officials said.

“It will be well worth the wait,” City Councilman Mark Olson said. “It will be a nicer approach to the freeway.”

Traffic should return to normal on 41st Street by the end of October, Chang said. When that happens, crews aim to install two new traffic lights along an adjacent road that runs between 41st Street and Broadway by spring 2009.

The 41st Street project started in July right after the interchange was finished as part of the state’s Everett I-5 widening project, Chang said. The state expanded the freeway with new carpool lanes between Marine View Drive and Highway 526, also known as the Boeing Freeway this year. The $263 million project was considered the third most expensive highway project in the state’s history. Construction for the project took a few years to complete, causing hassles for drivers.

Meanwhile, a new bicycle trail is being built along 41st Street as part of the $3.6 million work, Chang said. The new trail, set to open in mid-October, will extend into Lowell neighborhood across the I-5 interchange. It’s also being connected to the Interurban Trail, which mostly runs along I-5 between Everett to near Shoreline.

Eventually, city officials want to bring the bicycle trail to Everett Station, Chang said.

The city wants to improve not only roads, but also sidewalks and bicycle trails, Mayor Ray Stephanson said.

“We are clearly migrating to a community that needs multiple ways to move people,” Stephanson said.

Just east of Everett Station, development is being planned along the Snohomish River. In a few years, Everett Riverfront is expected to have shops, restaurants, a hotel, a movie theater, homes and five miles of walking and bicycle trails.

Everett is transforming into a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly place, said City Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher, who sits on the council’s transportation committee.

“Obviously, gas prices created the impetus, but we need to do a better job,” Stonecipher said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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