‘Braided ramp’ to relieve congestion on southbound I-5 near 196th

The state Department of Transportation hopes to alleviate congestion problems in one of Lynnwood’s most problematic traffic areas.

Crews will begin construction in July of a “braided ramp” – a new on-ramp from I-405 and SR 525 elevated above a new off-ramp to 196th Street Southwest. The new ramps  will eliminate lane-weaving and will help reduce the risk of rear-end and sideswipe collisions.

When seen from above, the ramps will somewhat resemble a braid, hence the name.

The project seeks to improve traffic flow where the on-ramps from Interstate-405 and State Route 525 join southbound I-5.

According to Meghan Pembroke of WSDOT, from 2005 to 2009 there were 189 collisions on this stretch of southbound I-5. Of those collisions, 58 percent were rear-end collisions and 17 percent were sideswipes.

“This is a very busy stretch of freeway,” said Pembroke. “We’re building the ramps to separate merging and exiting traffic and eliminate lane-weaving.”

“I’ve taken that exit a bunch of times,” says Kreston Welch, 39. “There’s a blind spot that happens when you’re trying to merge, and as a motorcycle rider, it’s scary trying to get over.

“Actually, I know of a guy who was hit there by a merging car,” he continued. “A driver came over and ran into this motorcycle driver and the guy was hurt pretty bad.”

Welch, a Lynnwood resident, said that fixing the 196th Street exit should be a WSDOT priority.

Aside from congestion relief and safety benefits, the construction will also provide an environmental advantage, as crews will upgrade storm-water storage and treatment facilities to ensure water quality for fish and other wildlife, according to WSDOT’s website.

The new ramps will place the off-ramp to 196th Street Southwest about a half-mile north of the existing ramp.

WSDOT expects construction to begin in late July or early August, with the project completed by December 2011.

Drivers should prepare for overnight lane closures on southbound I-5 and connecting routes such as SR 525, I-405 and SR 524 (196th Street Southwest).

Crews will close the HOV lane on the SR 525 on-ramp to southbound I-5. They will also shift the southbound I-5 lanes toward the median to create a safe workspace next to the freeway.

Overhead graphic of the new ramps. Click for full size.


RENE RAMOS is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.

Disclosure: Lynnwood Today editor Mike Murphy is an employee of WSDOT.

  1. Any plans for the Alderwood Blvd on-ramp (southbound 525) and 525 on-ramp to I-5? That's a nasty place too.

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