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

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!


Will said...

Given that rain is in the forecast for this Saturday, if they are unable to do paving work this weekend is there a possibility that the trestle will be closed for paving the weekend of August 24-27? Or would the three remaining weekends be August 17-20, September 7-10, and September 14-17?

WSDOT said...

Will - the latter part of your answer is correct. Our closure dates slide to the next available weekend, so if we are not able to work this weekend, our three remaining weekends would be Aug. 17-20, Sept. 7-10 and Sept. 14-17. We will not work the last weekend of August because of the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, and will not work on Labor Day weekend.

Kathy W said...

I commute weekends from Marysville to Snohomish via 204 and continue onto Hwy2, exiting at Bickford Ave. I return home also via Bickford to Hwy 2, onto 204 and then Sunnyside Blvd. Will that route still be available? The map seems to indicate that Hwy 2 will be closed from Hwy 9 all the way to the 204 (Lk Stevens) exit.

WSDOT said...

Kathy, you will be able to get from Marysville to Snohomish via your route, as eastbound US 2 will remain open. However, since westbound US 2 will be closed from SR 9 to the I-5 interchange - as indicated in the map - you will need to go to SR 9 from Bickford to go back north to Marysville. From SR 9 you'll be able to access westbound SR 204 to get to Sunnyside Blvd. Just leave yourself plenty of time to get around.

Unknown said...

Are they paving the rest between SR9 and HWY2 WB? Why close the underpass for SR204 if its not being paved?

WSDOT said...

Michael, the reason we are closing the westbound US 2 at SR 9 is to eliminate any confusion. There is no westbound US 2 off-ramp to Bickford Avenue, so the next opportunity for drivers to get off the highway would be at the US 2/SR 204/20th Street Southeast interchange. Now that people are used to having the 20th Street Southeast detour, we worry that if we let drivers past SR 9 during these next three closures, they might think the 20th St SE detour is still open and try to use it. That being said, we plan to have a lot of portable signs up along US 2, SR 204, SR 9 and 20th St SE in the days leading up to the closures to let them know about their detour options.

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