SMOKEY POINT — Traffic flow onto I-5 at Smokey Point should start getting a little smoother as early as today.
A new two-lane loop ramp is expected to open this morning and provide relief along the oft-bottlenecked 172nd Street NE interchange.
The ramp is part of more than $23 million in improvements that are being made in a bustling area that has seen a decade of rapid commercial and population growth on both sides of the freeway.
The new ramp will allow drivers westbound on 172nd Street NE to take a free right to go southbound on the freeway, instead of waiting for a traffic light to turn green for a left-hand turn.
“It should help traffic flow for everybody,” said Meghan Pembroke, a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
It also is designed to improve safety and cut down on the number of rear-end accidents and other collisions, she said.
Each day, about 40,000 motorists use the 172nd Street NE interchange to I-5. The project also includes widening other onramps and offramps and relocating the eastbound 172nd Street NE onramp to southbound I-5. Construction is six months ahead of schedule.
The new ramp should help a lot during peak commuting hours, said Michael Prihoda, executive director of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce.
“We are really going to see an improvement in our traffic congestion,” he said. “It will probably be a little confusing for a few days. I’m sure there will be that adjustment period.”
While cars might have quicker access in the Smokey Point area, a project in south Everett could slow things down through the weekend.
Drivers should plan for overnight ramp closures on northbound I-5 in south Everett this week, Pembroke said.
Workers also plan to close portions of 41st Street today and Saturday in Everett so crews can install a sewer line.
The work is scheduled to begin 7 p.m. today and will continue until about noon Saturday.
During the construction, eastbound traffic on 41st Street will be limited to one lane through the work site. Westbound traffic will be detoured at Colby Avenue to 37th and 43rd streets.
Flaggers and signs will direct drivers.
The work is dependent on weather, so if it rains the work may be put off.
Drivers also should plan ahead for this weekend, when crews will close the ramp from northbound I-5 to westbound Highway 526 from 10 p.m. today to 5 a.m. Monday. Drivers will follow a signed detour using Highway 527.
The work is part of the I-5/52nd Avenue W. to Highway 526 paving project, which is expected to be completed by the end of September.
It has been a busy summer for construction along I-5 through Snohomish County, with projects stretching from the King County line and into Skagit County.
Several paving projects, which have included night-time lane closures, are nearly complete.
A $4.8 million paving project from just south of 172nd Street NE to the Stillaguamish River is wrapping up, Pembroke said. It has included 4 miles of southbound I-5 and 1 mile of northbound I-5 as well as work on the onramps and offramps at the Highway 530 interchange.
A $10.4 million project to fix stretches of concrete pavement on a stretch of I-5 between Highway 532 and just north of the Skagit County line is expected to finish up this fall. There continue to be some nighttime lane closures.
Major work on a $3.6 million paving project covering 4 miles from the Snohomish River in Everett to Ebey Slough in Marysville should be done by the end of the month.
Work will get underway soon to install a concrete barrier along the I-5 median in Marysville.
Tri-State Construction Inc. of Bellevue will leave the cable barriers along the 10-mile stretch of I-5 from Fourth Street in Marysville to Highway 530 in Arlington until the concrete barriers are finished.
The $18.9 million project is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.
“We expect lane closures to start after Labor Day for that one,” Pembroke said.
Typically, construction work requiring lane closures is suspended during the Labor Day weekend.
“We don’t want to add to the congestion people are already going to face,” Pembroke said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, email@example.com.