A fourth high occupancy vehicle lane is coming to northbound Interstate 5, seen here north Dec. 2, 2022, from north Everett to Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

A fourth high occupancy vehicle lane is coming to northbound Interstate 5, seen here north Dec. 2, 2022, from north Everett to Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Work on I-5 HOV lane from Everett to Marysville starts next week

Overnight lane reductions are scheduled Monday through Thursday, with more disruptions ahead this month.

EVERETT — A little later and more expensive than initially planned, work is starting soon to add a fourth northbound carpool lane to I-5 and build a new interchange at Highway 529.

Initially the projects were eyed for 2022 at an estimated cost of $84 million.

Labor, land and supply cost increases pushed it to $123 million and out to fall 2024. Most of the money is from the Legislature’s Connecting Washington transportation package from 2015, and the Move Ahead Washington package last year covered the $30.5 million gap.

Once the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane and the new interchange is built, it should help the 61,000 daily drivers through the area that sees afternoon congestion like clockwork, local and state officials have said. Drivers can avoid the railroad crossings by taking the new Highway 529 ramps.

An estimated 25% of those drivers could use the HOV lane, according to state projections.

Work on the new HOV lane between Everett and Marysville is set to begin Monday. Construction crews are set to grind and repave the northbound shoulder, which will funnel traffic into two lanes from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through Thursday.

The southbound shoulders are scheduled for grinding and patching the following week Monday and Tuesday.

All of that work is weather-dependent.

Back in 2018, WSDOT considered allowing drivers to use the northbound I-5 shoulder during peak traffic.

By 2019, the state opted to add a fourth northbound lane for HOV use only between Everett and Marysville.

The HOV lane is good news for people who ride buses in north Snohomish County. It’s part of Community Transit plans for more express routes from Arlington and Stanwood to connect with light rail stations, spokesperson Monica Spain wrote in an email.

“We were advocates for the HOV lane in early design on this project,” Spain wrote. “We had anticipated an express route concept that would connect north (Snohomish) County with Link light rail and would need HOV priority to contend with ongoing growth and traffic impacts.”

The new Highway 529 interchange factors into Community Transit plans for the Swift bus rapid transit Gold line between Everett and Smokey Point, Spain wrote.

A preliminary drawing shows a cyclist and pedestrian underpass that would go below the new offramp from northbound I-5 to Highway 529, WSDOT spokesperson Kurt Batdorf said.

Expanding the road without acquiring more property means redoing the shoulders and making the travel lanes more narrow. The lanes will shrink from 12 to 11 feet, similar to stretches of I-5 in the Seattle area, Batdorf wrote in an email.

Later this month, crews will shift the northbound lanes so they can install a temporary barrier before eventually putting in the permanent concrete divider. That work is scheduled Wednesday, March 16 and Thursday, March 17. The southbound lanes are set to move right the week of March 20.

The current barrier has segments that are 32 inches high and weigh 2,800 pounds linked together by steel bars. Its replacement will be similar to what the state installed in 2007 on I-5 between Marysville and the Stillaguamish River, where the former cable barriers inadequate at preventing crossover crashes were replaced.

The new barriers between Everett and Marysville will be 48 inches tall, Batdorf wrote.

Shoulders will vary from 2 to 8 feet wide. Narrow shoulders can make it riskier for people on the roadside after a crash or car trouble. Drivers should move over a lane if possible and slow down when they see emergency and hazard lights flashing.

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

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