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WSDOT considering I-5 shoulder driving to ease congestion

WSDOT is considering opening some shoulders on I-5 to drivers during rush hour to help ease congestion. (AP image)

When you’re stuck in traffic on the freeway, you have to admit the thought of driving on the shoulder can be pretty tempting. Now, the Washington State Department of Transportation is thinking of making that OK on some stretches of I-5.

WSDOT is reportedly looking at opening the shoulder to traffic on northbound I-5 between Everett and Marysville during peak evening hours, according to KING 5.

Officials say they’re considering that stretch because of budget constraints, and with water on both sides there isn’t enough room to build another lane.

“In the areas where we have limited space and we have enough width in the roadway, it’s making use of every bit of that width,” said Mark Leth, WSDOT Region Traffic Engineer.

Shoulder driving is currently allowed on westbound US 2.

WSDOT says they’re also considering squeezing a third lane in on northbound I-5 at Seneca in downtown Seattle, one of the consistently worst bottlenecks in the state.

But Leth said even those fixes cost more money than the state currently has in the budget. Just making the changes to allow shoulder driving would cost an estimated $30 million. Leth said the state has tried to get additional federal grants, but with little success.

KIRO Radio’s Karen Taylor contributed to this report.

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