Alternative is needed to 8-hour shutdown of I-5

I was in the catastrophic I-5 backup on May 16 trying to reach Marysville from Mukilteo. With construction and lane blockages on both I-5 and the Highway 529 it has been difficult, but Thursday took the reward. It took us 1:45 hours to reach home (“On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable,’ The Herald, May 17).

Others I know have even worse stories to tell. It took me back to a massive state Department of Transportation mistake in the early 2000s when all of Everett was in gridlock due to the complete closing of the Highway 529 route. Luckily one of those trapped was Gov. Gary Locke who had been in town for an event. He noticed and demanded WSDOT do as much thinking about the residents as they did about their project. I believe that’s when a lot of construction was shifted to nights to avoid the majority of traffic, among other changes.

Thursday’s catastrophe was due to a horrible event, to be sure, but does the entire freeway need to be shut down for eight hours? I think this time the State Police and Everett police need to be under the microscope. As a person stuck in the mess I saw no help anywhere from the city or state to help the drivers who were stuck. It felt like we were of really no concern to anyone. I can understand closing all lanes for a short period of time, but to not open even one lane in eight hours in unbelievable. I hear there was a massive police presence at the site. I am betting very few of them had an actual reason for being there. I think many could have been released to provide help, information and assurance to the thousands of drivers stranded.

I am sure there are many better ways this could have been handled. I’m not a trapped governor, but I hope the State Patrol and Everett Police will do some very serious examination of this event to help lessen the effects of a similar situation in the future. I sincerely hope it doesn’t take some high ranking official who’s also trapped to scream “Stop this madness.”

Ann Distefano


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