Cars begin to backup March 1, 2018 on the U.S. 2 trestle in Everett. The city of Everett is leading a study to look at the interchange for the highway and I-5. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Cars begin to backup March 1, 2018 on the U.S. 2 trestle in Everett. The city of Everett is leading a study to look at the interchange for the highway and I-5. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Everett wants a look at I-5, U.S. 2 interchange options

The city approved a $2.3 million study of the busy interchange, with an eye on alleviating backups.

EVERETT — Anyone who regularly commutes on I-5 through Everett knows when and where the backups start.

You can usually count on it by 6 a.m. heading south and west, then again around 2:30 p.m. until 7 or 8 p.m. heading north and east, Monday through Friday. The nexus seems to be the interchange with U.S. 2 and the ensuing reduction of lanes just before the freeway crosses the Snohomish River.

It’s even officially counted in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Annual Roadway Congestion Index, in which anything rated higher than 1 is “undesirable.” Seattle was a 1.03 in 2011. For comparison, San Francisco’s index was 1.41 and Spokane was 0.68.

Plenty of people think more lanes would work, but traffic engineers and data don’t support that idea.

What about changing the actual design on the interchange?

Everett wants to explore the question and see what can be learned through a $2.3 million study called an interchange justification report. The city is spending $165,000, Snohomish County partnered on the endeavor with $150,000, and a $2 million Federal Surface Transportation Program grant covers the rest.

“This is just an incremental step in trying to deal with the I-5/U.S. 2 interchange,” Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts said at the council’s June 24 meeting.

The report, called an IJR, is a planning level study that looks at needs (traffic volume, population growth projections) for a new interchange or new geometries (basically the shape and angles that two high-speed roads connect).

“Nothing will get built out of an IJR, but it’s the first step in the process to get funding that we need to build something,” Everett principal engineer Tom Hood said.

About 171,000 vehicles used that stretch of I-5 and 82,000 vehicles took the trestle every day in 2019, according to Washington State Department of Transportation data. The southbound I-5 on-ramp from the trestle averaged 25,150 in weekday traffic in 2018, per the state’s 2018 ramp and roadway report.

WSDOT isn’t involved in the pre-planning and early design work and doesn’t have any long-range improvement plans for the interchange, spokesperson Kris Olsen said. The Legislature would have to fund a study to create a preferred alternative and construction before WSDOT joined the project.

The state, county and some cities served by U.S. 2 helped fund a study on replacement of the trestle between Everett and Lake Stevens. WSDOT’s report for the Federal Highway Administration is unrelated to the interchange, Olsen said.

Though the projects are separate, Hood said the “next logical step” of replacing the westbound trestle is how it connects to I-5. After all, the infrastructure is connected.

“When a vehicle’s going 60 (mph) and they have to slow down to 40 (mph) to take a turn, that slowdown will create a chain of blowback,” Hood said.

Everett’s interest in the interchange is more than just commerce moving into, out of and through the city. The area around the tangle of ramps on and off the highways regularly become jammed with vehicles queuing along Everett Avenue, Hewitt Avenue, Pacific Avenue and Walnut Street.

The city doesn’t have any recommendations in mind yet, Hood said.

“The most likely scenario would be rerouting, new access points to I-5 or U.S. 2,” he said.

The city will contract a consultant or consulting firm for the interchange study because the work is more than city staff can handle atop existing responsibilities, Hood said. The timeline for it to be presented to the city isn’t certain, though it’s likely over a year out, he said.

When the project could actually begin and finish is a total unknown.

“That’s anybody’s guess because it requires so many, probably hundreds of millions of dollars, to do something of this magnitude,” Hood said.

Everett led a similar study for the 41st Street interchange redesign in 2004. That project, which was rolled into the state’s expansion of northbound I-5 with a high-occupancy vehicle lane between Highway 526 and U.S. 2, took years to complete.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A worker disassembles a fluidized bed incinerator at the Edmonds Wastewater Treatment Plant on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 in Edmonds, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In Edmonds, $26M goes to a cleaner way to get rid of poop

The city will reduce its wastewater carbon footprint by dumping an incinerator and using new technology.

The Voting Commissioners of the Washington State Redistricting Commission released draft Legislative District maps Tuesday. (Washington State Redistricting Commission)
Early maps of legislative districts endanger some incumbents

Under one redistricting proposal, Mill Creek joins Everett. Under another, Monroe joins Wenatchee.

Tuesday's career fair will be at Everett Community College, which incidentally is also one of the participants. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Snohomish County Career Fair set for Tuesday at EvCC

Job seekers can connect with more than 40 employers at this year’s annual event.

Driver who died in Everett car crash identified

Thomas Ogden, 43, was driving Tuesday morning on Rucker Avenue at 41st Street when another car crashed into his.

Granite Falls altercation: Dog killed, man shot in head

A 20-year-old man allegedly shot an intruder, 54, who threatened two people and killed their dog.

Man found dead in Mountlake Terrace homeless camp identified

Oscar Banos Mejia, 40, was discovered in the bushes along the Interurban Trail on Friday afternoon.

Police respond to a crash in which Isaiah Funden, 24, of Marysville, died after his motorcycle collided with a car Monday morning on the Snohomish River Bridge. (Everett Police Department)
Motorcyclist who died in Everett bridge crash identified

The Marysville man, 24, was involved in a collision with a car and ejected into the Snohomish River.

Callie Childers 20210921
Car of slain Marysville woman was set on fire

Her body was found along a remote stretch of U.S. 2, east of Stevens Pass. Her car was found near Snohomish.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff (center) takes a ride on light rail from the Angle Lake Station in Seatac with King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) on Sept. 21, 2016. (Ian Terry / Herald file)
CEO of fast-growing Sound Transit system to step aside

The search will begin soon to replace Peter Rogoff, who leads the multibillion-dollar transportation network.

Most Read