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Overpass project launched March 4

Big equipment started moving dirt around the 172nd Street overpass on I-5 last week, with shoulder grinding and land clearing for an expanded park and ride in conjunction with the project, which also includes widening 27th Avenue to Lakewood Commons in Marysville. - Sarah Arney
Big equipment started moving dirt around the 172nd Street overpass on I-5 last week, with shoulder grinding and land clearing for an expanded park and ride in conjunction with the project, which also includes widening 27th Avenue to Lakewood Commons in Marysville.
— image credit: Sarah Arney

ARLINGTON — Dirt is moving at the 172nd Street overpass project on I-5.

The orange fences went up during February and now crews of Northwest Construction Inc., are clearing land for the future cloverleaf that will enable west-bound drivers to turn right onto the southbound I-5 without a left-turn light. The contract was awarded Jan. 12.

The new on-ramp will involve a right turn from the right lane of 172nd and will loop around to the right lane of I-5.

Crews kicked off the project March 4 with grinding work in the roadway shoulder, preparing for the construction of a new two-lane loop ramp to expand the capacity of the six-lane “Oliver ‘Punks’ Smith Bridge” completed in 2005. Named by the state legislature for the Arlington City Councilman who initiated the community effort to organize the group TRAP and seek funds and support to expand the bridge. The bridge expansion was completed by Graham Construction in late 2005.

“This is not just a loop ramp,” said WSDOT project engineer Amir Ahmadi, explaining the reason the project costs $30.5 million. The price includes every dollar from day one, including the scope, design and permits, he said.

“Along with the loop, we are also adding a second lane to the northbound off and on ramps, and to the southbound on ramp. We will also realign the southbound off ramp and build a brand new park and ride,” Ahmadi said.

The park and ride, or “park and pool,” Ahmadi noted, will be located adjacent to the new commercial development currently in construction north of 172nd Street, in Marysville.

“We will also widen SR 531 at 27th Avenue, with a left and right turn lane into the Lakewood Commons, with two new signals and three detention ponds,” Ahmadi continued.

“It’s an exciting project,” he said.

Drivers can expect to see lane closures periodically through the construction project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010. Funded by the 2005 Gas Tax, the $30.5 million project will support more than 300 construction-related jobs over the next two years.

More than 40,000 vehicles use the 172nd Street interchange to access I-5 each day, according to WSDOT. Increased traffic has caused severe back-ups on and around the bridge during peak commute times and on weekends. Traffic is heaviest for drivers heading from westbound SR 531 to southbound I-5. Also, the addition of a bicycle lane and pedestrian walkway will improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

For more information, go to www.tinyurl.com/cj7azx.

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