Drivers should be cruising in new I-405 lane come June
November 3, 2009 · Updated 12:27 PM
Despite some rain and wind, officials held a groundbreaking early the morning of Oct. 26 for what will be a new lane of Interstate 405 through Bothell.
The new lane will stretch between Northeast 195th Street and State Route 527 on the north side of the freeway, the site of major rush-hour congestion, according to various Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) officials.
The lane is expected to be open to drivers by June 2010.
“This project was not scheduled to be complete until 2015,” said Jerry Lenzi, assistant state secretary of transportation, speaking during the groundbreaking. “Stimulus funds allowed us to move this forward by five years. It’s pretty remarkable when you think about it. Congestion relief will start five years earlier than planned.”
“The greater Bothell area will benefit in many ways from this project. Beyond the objective of traffic congestion relief, it provides 90 living-wage construction jobs to local workers and supports other local businesses that are struggling in this tough economy,” said State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell.
WSDOT I-405 program spokesperson Steve Peers later added contractors are renting a sizable amount of office space for the project.
“There’s going to be some ripple effects in Bothell,” Peers said of the economic reach of the project, echoing McAuliffe’s comment.
Kiewit Pacific Co. of Renton won the project with a combined design and construction bid of $19.2 million, some 36 percent less than the available funding of $30 million, according to another WSDOT spokesperson, Susan Hoffman.
According to WSDOT, funding is coming from the 2005 Washington state gas tax package, as well as federal relief dollars offered through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Besides addressing afternoon congestion, Hoffman and others have said widening 405 will help drivers accessing the University of Washington, Bothell and the various business centers in Canyon Park. WSDOT claims a benefit-cost analysis found the project to exceed a 4:1 benefit-cost ratio.
Further, WSDOT intends for the new lane to improve traffic flow in a section of I-405 where more than 100 collisions have occurred in the past three years. Eighty-four percent of the collisions are considered congestion related, and of those collisions, 60 percent occur in the outside lane as a result of stop-and-go and weaving traffic entering and exiting the freeway between the 195th Street and SR 527 interchanges.
Hoffman said further project benefits include:
• Increasing travel speeds by 25 mph to 30 mph during peak hours.
• Improving HOV-lane operation for carpools, vanpools and transit users.
• Easing transit access to the Canyon Park and Ride. Some 50 buses use the that section of I-405 daily.
• Enhancing storm-water treatment on new and existing pavement.
According to Peers, I-405 traffic will not be especially impacted during the construction of the new lane. He said Kiewit has not planned any major traffic shifts or road closures.
“Essentially, they are going to work behind barriers all winter,” Peers said.