US 2 Westbound Trestle Study

This small area map shows the connections between westbound US 2 and Interstate 5 in Everett.

Study news

We have completed a Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study for the US 2 westbound trestle between Lake Stevens and Everett.

The study helps identify transportation issues, environmental concerns, community values and economic goals early in project planning. A detailed environmental review process follows a PEL study, as required by both the National Environmental Policy Act and the State Environmental Policy Act. Information gathered in the PEL study is carried forward into the environmental review process, saving time and money. 

Study report

The westbound US 2 trestle in Snohomish County is the only direct highway route across the Snohomish River to the Interstate 5 corridor in Everett. Due to significant population growth, the westbound trestle is busier and more congested.

In 2019, we began gathering information about evolving traffic patterns, growth, and the effect on the westbound trestle. Our study also made a high-level examination of floodplains, wetlands, and fish-bearing streams. 

A panel of traffic engineers, transit experts, land use planners and elected representatives studied different replacement and improvement options. The study also included initial community engagement with residents and trestle users. 

Study results

The study revealed that a new or upgraded trestle with more lanes could only provide a limited near-term benefit, but it would not eliminate westbound congestion. Southbound I-5 through Everett is typically packed with weekday morning commuters. With no improvements on I-5 planned, the backups during peak commute times will begin earlier and last longer. Traffic on a wider trestle would still back up as vehicles slow to squeeze onto a congested I-5 and by 2040, traffic congestion on the trestle would be worse than it is now.

Concepts analyzed

The study started with several dozen concepts. Most were immediately eliminated due to safety concerns or the high cost of rebuilding portions of I-5 to accommodate new or improved US 2 connections. Two  emerged as the most feasible and were selected for additional evaluation:

  • Concept 2: A four-lane trestle with three general purpose lanes and one high occupancy vehicle lane.
  • Concept 3: A three-lane trestle with three general purpose lanes, one of which becomes a short HOV/bus bypass just prior to the I-5 interchange.

Overall we found:

  • Increasing the capacity of the westbound trestle does not alleviate congestion during the morning peak hours. Increased demand generated by a larger trestle could not be accommodated by I-5 and would result in longer travel times across the trestle.
  • Three lanes on the trestle would provide enough capacity for future traffic conditions if highway network congestion is also addressed.
  • Transit and HOV lanes with better connections to the system could provide people with an option to bypass congestion.

Further analysis needed

Analysts and elected representatives agree that we need to further evaluate the three-lane concept that includes a transit/HOV lane or managed lane. We will also need to study possible improvements on I-5 to improve the effectiveness of a wider trestle.


Kris Olsen