I-5’s odd parking lot in median half done

EVERETT – It’s halfway done.

A unique park-and-ride is rising out of the dirt in the middle of I-5.

The $41 million freeway median project, expected to open late next year, will feature 400 convenient parking spaces and a bus station just north of 112th Street.

Drivers can expect more freeway lane closures while the work is getting done.

Construction is moving so fast that the new park-and-ride, complete with ramps to I-5 and 112th Street, could open early, said Bruce Gray, a spokesman for Sound Transit.

“It’s going like gangbusters,” Gray said. “If it were going any better, then we would be worried. We’re 55 percent done.”

In the short term, the drivers who see the biggest change will be those driving on 112th Street, where a new bridge is being built, said Amir Ahmadi, project engineer for the state Department of Transportation.

“People on 112th are going to find themselves driving on the new bridge fairly soon,” he said.

Drivers are asked to exercise patience as they drive through the area, he said.

Several additional lane closures and nighttime freeway closures will be needed to finish building the 112th Street bridges.

Look for nighttime lane closures for the next two weeks.

The unusual location of the park-and-ride has allowed commuters on I-5 to watch it be built step by step.

First they saw 15 acres of trees cut down. Then the site was graded and contoured. Next they will see the parking area paved and bus stations go up.

“As far as we know, this is the first park-and-ride that has cars parked in an interstate median in the country,” Gray said.

Locating the park-and-ride in the middle of the freeway will put riders and buses closer than the out-of-the-way lot now used in the Eastmont neighborhood, transit officials said. Eastmont is not closing, however.

The new location is expected to shave about nine minutes off a round-trip bus ride to Seattle from south Everett, transit officials said.

A key part of the project is to build a wider, six-lane 112th Street over the freeway, including new bridges over northbound and southbound I-5.

That work also is halfway finished, with traffic scheduled to shift onto the new structure in about two weeks.

Once traffic is moved, the old bridges will be demolished to make room for the second half of the new bridges to be built.

Everett is paying for most of the 112th Street widening, while Sound Transit is paying for the rest of the project.

The park-and-ride project includes four direct-access ramps that will allow carpool traffic to get in and out of the park-and-ride lot without crossing all lanes of traffic.

Regular traffic will use a ramp being built from 112th Street down into the park-and-ride.

“I’d like to thank people’s patience, especially those who commute over 112th Street,” Ahmadi said.

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