Soon, you’ll be able to hop on a bus in the I-5 median

EVERETT — A new park-and-ride station in the median of I-5 is about to open in south Everett, with new ramps allowing carpoolers and buses to directly enter and exit the freeway’s carpool lanes.

The $32 million station, set to open Sept. 21, is the first of its kind built in the median of a freeway, said Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett. The state didn’t need to buy any additional land to build the station.

“The advantage is obviously a smart land use,” said Sells, a member of the House Transportation Committee.

The park-and-ride lot has 400 parking spaces and is near the 112th Street SE overpass. In addition to the new carpool lane ramps, crews widened 112th Street SE from two lanes to five lanes to improve traffic flow and enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

About 175,000 vehicles use I-5 in south Everett daily, according to the state Department of Transportation. About 20,000 vehicles, including buses, use the freeway’s carpool lanes. About 28,000 vehicles use 112th Street SE.

The new station is just south of Highway 526, also known as the Boeing Freeway. Earlier this year, the state finished widening I-5 with new carpool lanes from Highway 526 north to Marine View Drive. The $263 million project was considered the third-largest highway project in the state’s history.

Now, the freeway has continuous carpool lanes between Seattle and Everett, said Patty Michaud, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Department. The new park-and-ride lot is designed to allow carpoolers and buses to get on and off the carpool lanes without crossing other lanes.

Construction for the station began in 2006 and is almost complete. Officials have scheduled a ribbon-cutting ceremony today. Once the station is open for the public, buses from Sound Transit and Everett Transit are expected to make stops.

High gas prices are prompting commuters to try buses and carpooling, Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said. The new station should help many Everett residents who commute on the freeway and need alternative options.

“I think this is a project that our citizens will embrace,” Stephanson said.

Everett focused on widening the 112th Street bridges, said Dave Davis, the city’s engineering director. They used to be too narrow to handle traffic volumes.

“The city encourages the use of mass transit,” Davis said. “This allows our citizens much easier access to mass transit along I-5.”

The state, Sound Transit and the city cooperated well on the project, said Everett City Councilman Paul Roberts, who also serves on the Sound Transit Board of Directors.

“This is on time and on the budget,” Roberts said. “The promise has been kept.”

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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