Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Westbound US 2 closure may equal major traffic headaches in Snohomish County this weekend

Significant adjustments needed by drivers to avoid massive travel delays

Update
The final two closures of westbound US 2, postponed due to colder weather in September 2018, are now scheduled for the following weekends:

  • 7 p.m. Friday, June 28 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 1
  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 12 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 15

In the event weather postpones the work, we have identified the following potential backup closure weekends.

  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 19 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 22
  • 7 p.m. Friday, August 2 to 4 a.m. Monday, August 5.
Get more details on why we must complete this project, and what we need from travelers.

By Ally Barrera

If I were to use an emoji to describe what could be in store for Snohomish County drivers during the next three weekend closures of our westbound US 2 paving project, it would be the exploding head.
This may seem like an exaggeration cooked up in the mind of a millennial, but it's really not.

That's because these upcoming closures could potentially gridlock traffic in Snohomish County from Marysville to Mill Creek. No, that's not an exaggeration. Seriously.

If we all don't make adjustments during these weekends – carpool, public transit, biking, hibernating – the traffic will make you feel like your head might explode. Yes, even more than usual.

Now that I've scared you...
It's time to dig into why these closures will have a much bigger effect on traffic compared to our previous US 2 closures.

On the weekends of Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 6-7, contractor crews will close all lanes of westbound US 2 between State Route 9 and the I-5 interchange – as long as the weather cooperates.

During these weekends, crews will repave the west end of the Hewitt Avenue trestle between Homeacres Road and the I-5 interchange. This means the 20th Street Southeast bypass detour we've come to know and love during previous closures will not be available, because it would drop vehicles right in the middle of the work zone.
This map shows approximately where crews will be working during the next three US 2 weekend closures.

Instead, travelers must detour onto SR 9 with options to go northbound on a 10-mile route to SR 528 in Marysville or southbound on a 12-mile route to Cathcart Way and SR 96 in Mill Creek.  

Plan LOTS of extra time to your travels
Whether you travel north or south on SR 9, expect it to take you AT LEAST 45 minutes longer to get around on these roads compared to when westbound US 2 is open.

And that's without factoring in all the extra vehicles that would normally be on US 2.
Even on a typical weekend, traffic on these roads are slow-going. Add the additional detoured vehicles
that normally use westbound US 2, and traffic will be downright glacial.

We've crunched the numbers, and found the amount of vehicles on northbound SR 9 and SR 528 will double during these US 2 closures. It will be even more crowded on southbound SR 9 and SR 96, where we expect the number of vehicles to triple during the closures. TRIPLE, I say!

Sure, there are backroads and local shortcuts you can take to get around – and your GPS might guide you through those areas as well – but expect a ton of other people to be doing the exact same thing.

Basically, if you must be on the road during the next few weekends, budget A LOT of extra time into your travels. And just when you think you've added enough extra time to get around, add some more time just to be safe.

What we need drivers to do
Here's the thing: If people try to drive like it's business as usual during these next three closures – or even like it's similar to the past few trestle closures – the highways will be completely jammed up. We need everyone who plans to travel through this area to do something different, like:
  • Carpooling
  • Taking transit
  • Moving discretionary travel to a non-construction weekend
  • Traveling before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. to avoid peak congestion
  • Checking traffic conditions before you get behind the wheel
    • Our website will have closure and lane reduction updates.
    • Get weekly email updates on King and Snohomish County projects.
    • Our Twitter account will have info about traffic.
    • Download our mobile app for traffic maps and other news and updates.
We saw this work out quite well during last month's Revive I-5 shutdown of northbound I-5. We asked drivers to try different ways of getting around the closure, and they did! Sure, there were still some backups around the region, but they were a fraction of what they could have been had everyone went along business as usual.

This needs to be done
This highway preservation work is important, and our crews can get a lot more work done during a full weekend closure than during a quick, overnight closure. We also need to get the work done before our good summer weather runs out.

Not to sound too cliché, but it's going to take the entire village working together to keep weekend traffic moving. Thank you in advance for your patience. We got this!