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

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Pablo Garduno and the team at Barbacoa Judith’s churn out pit-roasted lamb tacos by the dozen at the Hidden Gems Weekend Market on Sunday, April 28, 2024, at Boom City in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Eating our way through Tulalip’s Hidden Gems weekend market

Don’t miss the pupusas, pit-roasted lamb tacos, elotes and even produce for your next meal.

Reed Macdonald, magniX CEO. Photo: magniX
Everett-based magniX appoints longtime aerospace exec as new CEO

Reed Macdonald will take the helm at a pivotal time for the company that builds electric motors for airplanes.

A guitarist keeps rhythm during Lovely Color’s set on the opening night of Fisherman’s Village on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at Black Lab in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
No matter what music you’re into, Fisherman’s Village has a hook for you

From folk to psychedelic pop to hip-hop, here’s a quick guide to artists you might want to check out in downtown Everett.

Gayle Jones leads a praryer during a ceremony for the healing pole students spent the last year carving along with Tulalip carver James Madison at Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A source of healing’: Archbishop Murphy unveils Coast Salish healing pole

“I’m happy to have representation of my culture here at AMHS being one out of 15 Native American students,” said Amaya Hernandez.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.