Wider Westbound Trestle Won’t Relieve Congestion On I-5 In Everett

October 11, 2020

Everett

A graphic representation of how traffic on the US 2 trestle moves each morning in both directions. Prior to the pandemic, there were about 3,200 vehicles using the westbound trestle during the morning peak. Of those, 58% merged onto southbound I-5. Another 34% headed into downtown Everett. Just 8% used the ramp to northbound I-5. Only 3% of those were HOV. Approximately 81,000 vehicles used the trestle every day. Click graphic to enlarge.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is asking people to participate in an online open house and survey regarding future improvements to the Hewitt Avenue Trestle. Here’s what they’re asking.

The westbound US 2 trestle is the only direct highway route across the Snohomish River to the I-5 corridor in Everett. With significant population growth in Snohomish County, the westbound trestle is busier and more congested, especially during typical commutes that occurred prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The existing structure does not have enough lanes to handle usual daily needs or future traffic demands. In addition, due to lack of HOV or other managed lanes, or bike and pedestrian paths, there is little incentive for drivers to use other modes of transportation besides their cars. Finally, the westbound trestle, which was completed in 1968, does not meet current design standards.

In 2019, WSDOT began gathering information about evolving traffic patterns and growth, and their effect on the westbound trestle. A panel of traffic engineers, transit experts and land use planners, along with elected representatives studied different replacement concepts to see how each would affect the transportation system as a whole in the Everett/Lake Stevens area.

Cause of congestion: it’s not just US 2

We found that a new or upgraded trestle with more lanes would not eliminate westbound congestion on its own. Before the pandemic, southbound I-5 through Everett was typically packed with commuters on weekday mornings. With no improvements to I-5 planned at this time, the backups during peak commutes will begin earlier and last longer. Traffic on a wider US 2 trestle would still back up as vehicles slow down and try to squeeze onto a congested I-5. A wider trestle would move existing chokepoints and backups closer to Everett.

The replacement concepts evaluated

The expert panel started with more than 40 concepts with an eye toward the amount of traffic expected in 2040. Most concepts were immediately eliminated due to safety concerns and the high cost of rebuilding portions of I-5 to accommodate new or improved connections with US 2. Two representative concepts emerged as the most feasible and were selected for additional evaluation:

  1. A new four-lane trestle with three general purpose lanes and an HOV lane for carpools and buses.
  2. A new trestle with three general purpose lanes, one of which becomes a short HOV/bus bypass lane at the I-5 interchange.

4 lane

This map shows a concept of a four-lane westbound trestle. The far left lane would be designated as HOV or another type of managed lane, while the remaining three lanes would be open to all traffic. At the I-5 interchange, the HOV lane would end and take a new exit ramp to downtown Everett. One of the general purpose lanes would also exit to downtown. Both of these lanes would descend and travel under the existing eastbound span before touching down near Hewitt Avenue. The ramps to northbound and southbound I-5 would each remain close to their existing locations. In this concept, both would have two lanes that merge before entering I-5.

3 lane

This map shows a concept of a three-lane westbound trestle. All lanes would be open to all traffic. At the I-5 interchange where the lanes transition to ramps, the far left lane would become an HOV or managed lane bypass. The middle and right lanes become ramps to downtown Everett, southbound I-5 and northbound I-5. The ramps would remain close to their existing locations, but more lanes would be available on the ramps to Everett and I-5.


 

Online open house
The informational online open house showcases early draft concepts for improvements or replacement of the westbound trestle. It also provides information about many of the environmental and highway system challenges that must be addressed as part of any improvement or replacement. These concepts were initially evaluated by advisory groups that included state legislators, local elected leaders, and representatives from public works, transit and natural resource agencies.

Public survey
Highway users and people who live near the trestle also have an opportunity to share their thoughts by participating in a survey about the draft concepts. A link to the survey is available in the online open house, including versions in Spanish and Russian. WSDOT wants to know what travelers and residents see as the most important issues on the existing westbound trestle as well as feedback on the funding options and environmental concerns.

You can click here to take the survey which takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. It will remain online through Friday, Oct. 16.

Accessing the online open house and survey
The online open house and survey are available in English, Spanish and Russian. Links to the Spanish and Russian versions are available within the English open house document. The survey may also be requested by emailing US2TrestleInfo@wsdot.wa.gov. English, Spanish and Russian versions can all be provided via email.



About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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