WSDOT to address I-5 chokepoints between Everett and Marysville


It’s been eight years since I first started talking about a fix to the daily chokepoint on Interstate 5 between Everett and Marysville. And finally, work is set to begin on a major improvement project next week.

North-end drivers know exactly what I’m talking about, that daily backup from the Boeing Freeway to Marysville. But it’s not just a weekday commuting thing. It can happen on weekends or for no apparent reason.

And it’s a function of the current freeway design. You have on and off-ramps to downtown Everett. You have on and off-ramps from Highway 2, and you have the exit to Marine View Drive. All within about a mile of each other.

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All that weaving and lane changing just bogs down the freeway, and then you have all the lane changing in Marysville.

“It’s hazardous too because you’re going 60 miles an hour and, all of a sudden, the traffic stops,” the Washington Department of Transportation‘s Kurt Batdorf said.  “It’s really been a trouble spot for a long time.”

Work is beginning next week to add a northbound HOV lane between Marine View Drive and just south of Marysville.

“The problem is there are just too many people, too many drivers, too many vehicles using the available lanes,” Batdorf said. “We think that his HOV lane will help get that traffic moving through the area more efficiently.”

The project also includes a new I-5 off-ramp to State Route 529, giving drivers another option to get into Marysville.

So why is that important? The main Marysville exit to 4th Street is routinely backed up by freight trains.

“The crossing on 4th Street before State Avenue gets backed up several times a day,” Batdorf said. “This gives you an opportunity to get into Marysville without having to go across the railroad tracks.”

There will also be a new on-ramp from southbound SR 529 onto I-5.

Batdorf said engineers are squeezing the new HOV lane into the current freeway footprint. To do that, they have to repave the northbound shoulder and move the lanes.

The new lanes in the area will also be a foot thinner than they are currently, from 12 feet to 11 feet. They are staying within the current footprint because widening the road would have required expanding several bridges, and that would have cost a lot more money.

And this will only add a northbound HOV lane. I asked Batdorf why not do the same southbound.

“Even though there is more traffic on the southbound lanes, there isn’t the amount of merging that goes on,” Batdorf said.

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There will be a lane shift on southbound I-5 through the construction zone, but that’s just to create a work zone in the middle of the freeway.

Drivers should expect nighttime work, weekend work, and lane closures throughout this project, which is set to take two construction seasons. That means the fall of 2024 is when this should wrap up.

This project should really improve the conditions between Everett and Marysville, but I’m not sure just how much it’s going to help the congestion in downtown Everett. There is just so much merging there during peak time, I am expecting those daily backups to continue.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.


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