MARYSVILLE, Wash. - With roughly 65,000 commuters passing through the Marysville-Tulalip area every day on I-5, you’d be hard pressed to have missed the backups contributing to what a recent Inrix study called some of the worst traffic in the nation.
To explain where this backup comes from, Q13 News met up with John White, the WSDOT assistant regional administrator for project development in Snohomish and King counties.
“It kind of starts at the U.S. 2 trestle, I-5 coming northbound and southbound from there,” White said. “It has more lanes and HOV lanes and then those drop off and it narrows down. So, between north Everett and Marysville, things definitely are constrained and bottlenecked, so we have a number of projects in play right now that are going to help improve people’s access to and from I-5 as well as mobility on I-5.”
The most immediate solution drivers and commuters will see comes from a partnership with the Tulalip tribes and WSDOT aimed at adding capacity and improvements to the often backed up 116th interchange. Expected to be fully up and running a little later this year, that’s the exit that services North Marysville and the northern entrances to Quil Ceda Village. Sweetening the pot further, leftover funds from this project are already slated for several improvements to the 88th Street overpass as well.
Perhaps most exciting though are the long range plans for improvements, creating lanes for driving on the shoulder of I-5, improving capacity, and further fixes improving access to downtown Marysville.
“The plan there is to build a northbound peak shoulder that people would be able to use during the peak commute periods as well as it would build the two missing ramps there at the 529 interchange which is a key access into the central downtown Marysville business district,” White said.
This alone will be a huge boost for folks who’ve ever been stuck on 4th ave/528, waiting for a train to cross through town.
“Right now a lot of people try to access I-5 on what’s called 528 there at the south end of Marysville, and they’re faced with an at-grade Burlington Northern rail crossing that is interrupted quite often, so this would give people access to and from I-5 in all directions with the ability to avoid that,” White said.
With these projects coupled with the millions being invested into other improvements on SR-9, US-2, 526 and the like, it’s clear WSDOT is making big strides to ease the issues in Snohomish County, but clearly exploring other options to maximize our infrastructure really seems like the next necessary component.
That would include things like coordinating with major employers about work schedules and start times, focusing further on mass transit, telecommuting, and really taking a deeper look at how we as users might change our patterns to improve efficiency.