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WSDOT plans I-5 fix for infamous Everett to Marysville drive

I have been talking about promised relief to Snohomish County drivers who get stuck on the dreaded I-5 northbound drive between Everett and Marysville for years.

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It’s one of the most asked-about sections of road in Puget Sound by 97.3 KIRO FM listeners. Not only does I-5 northbound back up every afternoon, but it backs up at all hours of the day and on the weekends. It is very frustrating for drivers.

When the Washington State Department of Transportation started talking about a fix, the plan was to put in a peak use shoulder lane, similar to what drivers have on the eastbound Highway 2 trestle and the northbound I-405 drive out of Bothell. But WSDOT’s Kris Olsen said other ideas were being considered.

“Here are different ways to do it, so let’s analyze these ways, and then we started comparing them,” she said. “That’s what we did to see what performs best.”

Engineers looked at a new lane, shoulder driving, monitored shoulder driving and other options.

“In the end, a permanent HOV lane rose to the top as the best choice,” Olsen said.



The fix to this daily chokepoint will be a four mile extension of the HOV lane, from where it ends near Highway 2 in Everett to the 529 interchange in Marysville. That means adding a new lane, but to do that WSDOT is going to squeeze the other lanes into close to the same space. The lane width on that stretch will go from 12 feet wide to 11 feet wide.

“We have a lot of 11-foot lanes around the state so that’s not all that uncommon,” Olsen said.

The left shoulder will only be two feet wide. The right break-down lane will be 10 feet wide. That lane squeezing will make the sweeping downhill “S Curve” from Marine View Drive to the flats a little interesting, but drivers will adjust.

The HOV lane also won the competition because it was cheaper than the other options. For an HOV lane, you just widen and re-stripe, and you’re basically done.

I know you’re wondering when is this going to happen; it can’t come soon enough for daily drivers. It will coincide with the new 529 interchange that is being constructed off of I-5 in Marysville. Work is set to begin in 2021. It won’t be finished until late 2022.

And before you ask, this is a northbound-only solution. There is not a corresponding HOV extension from Marysville south to Everett.

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