SNOHOMISH — The state plans to spend $18.9 million on work starting this year on U.S. 2 between Snohomish and Monroe.
The project includes new paving and wider medians to separate the eastbound and westbound lanes.
The new medians will measure between 4 and 6 feet wide, and run from Bickford Avenue to Fryelands Boulevard, according to the state Department of Transportation. They will feature rumble strips, which are meant to alert drivers who are drifting.
This stage of work also affects the road after East Main Street. That area will get a new two-foot-wide median until just past Monroe. Rumble strips will take up much of that space.
To make room for the medians, “we are narrowing the lanes from 12 feet to 11, and some of the shoulders will be slightly narrower,” said Frances Fedoriska, an agency spokeswoman.
“It’s a lot of work on U.S. 2, but it’s necessary work,” she said. “The population is growing by leaps and bounds, and we need to make sure that U.S. 2 is in a state of good repair to handle the excess traffic.”
The median widths will vary in part because of the way the highway was built into the landscape.
“No shoulder will be less than 4 feet,” Fedoriska said, adding, “It’s a game of inches.”
The work also will bring new expansion joints for the 40-year-old Pilchuck River bridge, which will remain open but may see lane closures, and sidewalk improvements at intersections between Fryelands and the fairgrounds.
The later project, with median barriers, may draw more attention. Physical barriers are expected to be installed for two miles from Bickford Avenue almost to the Pilchuck River bridge.
The barriers would represent a major victory for local advocates who for years have brought attention to problems on U.S. 2 between Everett and Stevens Pass. They have been pushing for barriers made of concrete. However, the design plans are still pending and need to account for safety and environmental factors, such as drainage, Fedoriska said.
“Our barrier selection process could also include crash tests, and that requires a few months,” she said. “We’re not taking this barrier selection lightly.”
Roughly 40,000 drivers travel U.S. 2 between Snohomish and Monroe every day, according to the state, and the road is worse for the wear. Local traffic safety advocates, such as the U.S. 2 Safety Coalition, long have said that the area has too many head-on, crossover collisions leading to deaths and serious injuries.
Many of the same folks also are involved in the efforts to revamp Highway 522.
Meanwhile, on U.S. 2 west of Bickford toward Everett, questions remain about the 2018 repaving efforts that stalled out due to bad weather.
Yep, those trestle closures. The eastbound lanes are done, but not westbound.
The state needs two more weekends to wrap up, mainly focusing on “the far west end closest to the I-5 interchange,” Fedoriska said.
That $11.6 million project started this past April. The weather-dependent work is scheduled to resume this spring.
“We don’t have dates,” she said. “The project is in a winter hold right now.”