Why does the new SR 522 bridge over Fales/Echo Lake Road only have one lane in each direction?
We built what we could with the dollars available for the improvements. Originally, safety was our first goal with the SR 522 corridor projects. We planned to first widen the road to four lanes to the Snohomish River, then complete the interchanges, and finally finish the widening to US 2. After we completed the first phase, SR 9 to Paradise Lake Road, we needed to address the bottlenecks and improve congestion.
We wanted to advance the new interchange at Fales/Echo Lake Road and submitted this as a priority to the legislature. In 2003, the Regional Transportation Improvement District (RTID) funding package included money to widen SR 522 from Paradise Lake Road to the Snohomish River. This construction was slated to start in 2008. That same year, the Washington State Legislature approved money from the Nickel Funding Package for the logical next step, widening SR 522 from Snohomish River to US 2, starting in 2009.
The RTID funding package was not fully assembled in 2003 by county council leaders in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. A draft is nearly finalized and will be presented to voters in November 2007.
Funding has always been a factor for the SR 522 projects and we have tried to balance safety and commuter needs with the available dollars to provide the most improvement possible. The interchange project at Fales/Echo Lake Road built a bridge wide enough for one lane in each direction. However, we planned ahead by constructing the complete bridge footing and a partial abutment for a future wider bridge. We also built the interchange to the ultimate footprint of the future four lane interchange. Should funding become available to complete the widening, we'll be in excellent shape to continue with minimal disruptions for drivers.
What is WSDOT doing to address the a.m. congestion on SR 522 from Fales/Echo Lake Road to 164th Street SE?
After the new interchange opened at Fales/Echo Lake Road on Aug 17, drivers experienced a great reduction in travel time through early September. Delays resumed mid September. Our traffic engineers are currently collecting new data to see if there are ways to improve the a.m. congestion.
We recognize that there has been a shift in travel patterns now that we have an interchange rather than a signal. Our engineers will gather new traffic counts the week of Oct. 23 at the SR 522 ramps from SR 9 to US 2. Depending on what they find and subsequent analyses, we may consider the option of metering one or more ramps. Please understand that volume is not the determining factor for installing ramp meters. We also need to look at the queues and ramp storage issues that metering might create.