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Work begins on College Way widening project

December 15, 2018

MOUNT VERNON — Crews have begun preliminary work on a project to add two lanes to College Way under Interstate 5.

The project will reduce bottlenecks through the underpass in what has become the highest-traffic region in Mount Vernon, said Esco Bell, city Public Works director.

“This is the busiest corridor here in our city,” Bell said. “During peak hours, it’s beyond capacity.”

When completed, there will be three lanes in each direction — two that go straight under the interstate and a dedicated left-turn lane to get on the interstate.

Bell said he expects the project to be completed by January 2020. It will cost about $8 million, with the county, state and federal governments contributing about $5.5 million.

Crews from Granite Construction will work at night, allowing the project to proceed with minimal lane closures, he said.

In order to add these lanes, crews will dig into the slopes on either side of the existing road, Bell said. Because of this, most of the work will be done out of the way of traffic.

“We went to great lengths to minimize traffic impacts,” Bell said, adding that it was more expensive to pay crews to work nights.

The Skagit Public Utility District plans on installing water pipe at some point during the project, which will result in some temporary lane closures, said Public Works Assistant Director Mike Love.

Eventually, the corridor will need a $30 million to $50 million modernization, Bell said, but for now this smaller, relatively inexpensive project will go to great lengths to improve traffic flow.

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