CHOKEPOINTS

Sullivan: Oversized scissors, shovels used to celebrate I-405 project progress

May 21, 2024, 8:30 AM | Updated: May 22, 2024, 1:49 pm

Image: Members of the community hold oversized scissors as part of a ceremony to mark the completio...

Members of the community hold oversized scissors as part of a ceremony to mark the completion of one of the recent Interstate 405 (I-405) projects. (Photo: Chris Sullivan, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: Chris Sullivan, KIRO Newsradio)

What do oversized scissors and a dozen shovels have in common? They are what the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) needs to celebrate the on-going work and project progress on Interstate 405 (I-405) north of Bellevue.

It was a rare double feature for WSDOT Monday. A ribbon cutting for a project that just opened and a ceremonial turning of dirt to kick off something new.

At the Brickyard Park and Ride just off I-405 at NE 160th Street, WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar officially kicked off a four-year project to widen I-405 from SR 522 to SR 527 in Canyon Park in Bothell.

“This will enhance the corridor by delivering multimodal improvements that will provide benefits to all of the users in the corridor,  addressing aging infrastructure, stuff we built generations ago and opening fish habitat,” Millar said.

The project includes adding another express toll lane to the system and a complete redesign of the I-405/SR 522 interchange. It also adds and elevated transit stop in the middle of the freeway at Canyon Park.

“This project will give new choices to Eastside communities, whether they take transit or bike or roll or walk or drive,” Millar said.

A significant I-405 project in Kirkland

A few miles to the south, Millar broke out those oversized scissors to celebrate the completion of the new on and off ramps from I-405 at NE 132nd Street at the north end of Totem Lake in Kirkland.

Construction started on this project two years ago and wrapped up earlier this month. It includes two new roundabouts on 132nd to help manage the traffic flow and about a half-mile of new fish habitat.

Kirkland Mayor Kelli Curtis told a small crowd this has been a long time coming.

“Today is a big day in Kirkland, she said.  “It’s a big day for our north end neighborhoods of Kingsgate, Totem Lake, Juanita and Finn Hill. It’s a big day for those in emergency needing to get to EvergreenHealth and other medical facilities. And it’s a huge important day for the salmon of Juanita Creek.”

Curtis hit on the most important part of this project: It opens up access to Evergreen Medical Center from the north. Drivers no longer have to go down to 124th Avenue and deal with all the congestion there.

Dr. Ettore Palazzo is Evergreen’s CEO and was clear this move is crucial for those who need to get to the hospital quickly.

“When we do need to get someone quickly to the hospital for those urgent needs being able to have access like this, specially from the north, is so incredibly critical,” he said. “Time very well can save someone’s life.”

The roundabouts do have an interesting feature that might throw you off at first. These are two lane roundabouts that don’t have two lanes all the way around. You must change lanes if you are trying to take a left at the intersection, and that runs counter to normal rules of a roundabout that requires you to stay in your lane.

It got me on my first attempt, getting off I-405 south at the new 132nd offramp. To continue straight across the the Kingsgate Park and Ride, I had to be in the left of the two lanes at the end of the ramp.

As I went around the circle, I had to move over to the right lane in the roundabout to exit where I wanted.

If this had been a traditional two-lane roundabout, I would have started in the right lane and stayed there to make my exit.

It was a little unnerving, but it is legal, in this situation.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints here. You can also follow Chris on X. Head here to follow KIRO Newsradio Traffic’s profile on X.

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Sullivan: Oversized scissors, shovels used to celebrate I-405 project progress