‘Ring road” eases holiday traffic around Alderwood mall

LYNNWOOD — More drivers seem to be figuring it out.

A new stretch of roadway added in Lynnwood earlier this year, bordering the new Costco, also provides some relief for holiday shopping traffic around Alderwood mall.

City leaders say they’ve been happy to see a difference in congestion. That was part of their plan for the “ring road” — the new stretch of 33rd Avenue W between the mall’s northern border and Maple Road.

“We’re extremely pleased with how that has worked during the holidays,” public works director Bill Franz said. “For us here, professionally, it’s really a wonderful thing.”

Holiday season traffic starts in Lynnwood on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Intersections around the mall see as many as 1,100 more cars a day than at other times of the year, city traffic engineer Paul Coffelt said.

More than half of the extra cars travel the area between 4 and 9 p.m. during the work week.

The traffic starts to taper on Christmas Day, “but then there’s all the returns,” Coffelt said. A steady decline to normal traffic patterns doesn’t start until after the new year, he said.

Both Franz and Coffelt rely on the ring road for their daily commutes.

Historically, one of the biggest bottlenecks in the city during the holidays has been the intersection of 184th Street SW and Alderwood Mall Parkway near the Target store, Franz said.

“In the past, that intersection would back up in all three directions for blocks,” he said. “We’re really not seeing that this year. It’s staying pretty clear, with minor backups.”

The ring road opened this summer. It cost $10 million, with a mix of private money, grants and about $1.2 million from the city.

Still, it’s taking time for drivers to get used to the changes.

The lane configuration is a little different for Lynnwood, but people get the hang of it after a trip or two, Franz said.

“I noticed a huge difference from September to now; more and more people are using it,” he said. “They’re discovering it’s a great way to cut corners around the mall.”

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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