The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

With money secured, study underway for I-5, U.S. 2 interchange options

The Everett City Council approved a $2 million contract to find alternative designs for the highly trafficked spot.

EVERETT — Options to redesign the Interstate 5 and U.S. 2 interchange could be ready late next year.

The Everett City Council on Wednesday approved a $2,047,633 contract with Seattle-based firm Parametrix to conduct the interchange justification report. A federal grant will cover $2 million, with the rest split by Everett and Snohomish County.

The firm’s study is expected to develop and evaluate up to 15 alternative improvements to the interchange, including connections to city streets. The firm will then narrow the options, including a preferred alternative, according to the agreement.

The interchange report looks at traffic volume and population growth projections to determine if a new interchange is needed. When the city first pursued the study in 2020, city engineer Tom Hood said it is the first step toward securing funding for design and construction.

That means it could be years before change comes. The stretch of I-5 averaged 145,000 vehicles per day in 2020, according to state data. Those numbers during the pandemic were lower than in 2019.

Drivers who commute north every weekday afternoon and evening know the backups to U.S. 2.

Some 18,000 drivers per day broke off from I-5 to eastbound U.S. 2 there, according to state data.

The ramp from I-5 east to U.S. 2 curves and has a 35 mph speed limit. During peak commute hours, the combination of traffic volume and the required slowdown can mire I-5.

The interchange report is one of three related to the 2.5-mile span of U.S. 2 between Everett and Lake Stevens. The other reports are for the interchange on the east end at 20th Street SE and Highway 204 in Lake Stevens and replacing the westbound trestle.

The Washington State Department of Transportation’s 2018 report concluded the preferred alternative for the Lake Stevens interchange would add a lane to the trestle, separate ramps from 20th Street SE and Highway 204, add a signal at the intersection underneath the on-ramps, and put two-way traffic access over Ebey Slough Bridge. The estimated cost is around $410 million.

The Legislature recently passed $17 billion transportation package included $200 million toward the trestle replacement. Early estimates for the project are $1 billion.

More lanes wouldn’t solve congestion, according to a study of the westbound trestle replacement completed last year. Part of the problem is capacity on I-5.

The trestle study also concluded that three lanes could be sufficient for traffic projections in 2040 if congestion was “addressed on the highway network.” One lane could be for HOV, express toll or peak-use shoulder.

On the west end, the I-5 interchange report is supposed to be on a schedule similar to work on the trestle replacement.

But work won’t proceed until the Legislature funds it.

The report also is intended to look at connections to Everett’s streets. Currently drivers can reach the trestle from Hewitt Avenue, and spill into the city at California or Walnut streets.

Parametrix is expected to host in-person and online open houses and update the city’s web page.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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