Smokey Point to get new I-5 ramps

ARLINGTON — A little more traffic relief is on the way for Smokey Point.

People who drive through the busy intersection of I-5 and Highway 531, otherwise known as 172nd Street NE, can expect construction to begin as early as March.

Over the next two years, a new two-lane loop ramp from westbound Highway 531 to southbound I-5 is scheduled to be built.

The loop is designed give westbound drivers a free right turn onto southbound I-5, reducing backups at the interchange and improving travel times, said Aurora Jones, a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

The $30.5 million project also includes widening all the existing ramps to and from southbound and northbound I-5 and construction of new right-turn lanes on Highway 531.

The project should add to the improvements completed in 2006, when the two-lane Smokey Point Bridge over I-5 was replaced with a new six-lane bridge, Jones said.

The Department of Transportation this week awarded Northwest Construction Inc. of Bellevue the contract for the congestion-reducing project. Funded primarily from the 2005 gas tax package, the project is scheduled for completion in late 2010.

“This project is an excellent example of how we can reduce congestion by adding capacity to existing infrastructure,” Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said in a news release. “Improving traffic flow at this interchange will help keep people and businesses moving on I-5 and in the surrounding communities.”

City officials are pleased about the project for a couple of reasons.

“We’re very excited that this project is moving forward into construction this year,” Arlington spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said. “When completed, the addition of the loop onramp should help alleviate congestion in the Smokey Point area. It also should reduce the number of accidents that we respond to there.”

The state estimates that 40,00 drivers use the interchange each day to get on I-5. Recent population growth, along with retail and commercial development in Smokey Point, has led to increased traffic backups, Jones said.

The congestion routinely causes long lines on weekends and during peak commute hours, she said.

The new, wider bridge has helped reduce congestion for drivers traveling on the highway over the freeway, but improvements to the I-5 ramps should reduce backups, Jones said.

That’s the belief of Becky Foster, longtime Smokey Point businesswoman and advocate of improving the area’s traffic congestion.

“The construction project should help immensely and with minimal disruption to the community,” Foster said. “The new overpass was a Band Aid, but the new loop should really cut down on the pressure on 172nd.”

Paul Graves, president of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce, said he is glad the state is willing to take on a project during difficult economic times.

“This transportation investment is money well spent, and our hope is that it is being planned and executed with the proper foresight to ensure improved traffic flows for many years to come,” Graves said. “The chamber is always glad to see tax dollars being reinvested in infrastructure that benefits our local business owners and citizens.”

The city of Arlington anticipates that after the interchange project is complete that the state will begin work on widening Highway 531 (172nd Street) all the way east to Highway 9, Banfield said. A study to prepare for that project is under way, she said.

Reporter Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427 or

On the Web

For more information on the 172nd Street and I-5 interchange project at Smokey Point, go to

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Alyvia Nguyen, 8, climbs on leaf shaped steps at the new Corcoran Memorial Park playground on Friday, July 12, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Bothell-area park ‘could not be a more fitting dedication’

In 2019, Jim Corcoran donated $1.5 million worth of land to become a public park. He died before he could see it completed.

Cars line up for the Edmonds ferry in Edmonds, Washington on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Ferry line jumpers face a $145 fine — and scorn from other drivers

Law enforcement is on the lookout for line cutters. It’s a “hot-button issue that can lead to something worse.”

Mother charged in Stanwood toddler’s fentanyl overdose death

Morgan Bassett woke up in January 2022 and found her daughter wasn’t breathing. Last week, she was charged with manslaughter.

FILE — Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 23, 2024. Former President Donald Trump has chosen Vance to be his running mate, wagering that the young senator will bring fresh energy to the Republican ticket and ensure that the movement Trump began nearly a decade ago can live on after him. (Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times)
J.D. Vance is Trump’s pick for vice president

Vance, once a Trump critic, is an ambitious ideologue who relishes the spotlight. His selection comes just days after Trump survived an assassination attempt.

Former president Donald Trump is seen with a bloody ear as he is assisted off the stage during a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Pops, screams and then blood: On the scene at the Trump rally shooting

Isaac Arnsdorf, Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post BUTLER, Pa. - The… Continue reading

Biden, Democrats, Republicans denounce shooting at Trump rally

Reaction pours in from government leaders

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.