The city of Lynnwood plans to overhaul 196th Street SW, adding lanes and aiming for a more “downtown” feel. (City of Lynnwood)

The city of Lynnwood plans to overhaul 196th Street SW, adding lanes and aiming for a more “downtown” feel. (City of Lynnwood)

A wider 196th Street is the next step for growing Lynnwood

From five to seven lanes, the $30 million project aims to bring jobs, transit and homes to the city core.

LYNNWOOD — As the city continues to expand, so will a portion of 196th Street, the busy east-west arterial off I-5.

Expect things to look a lot different in a few short years.

The public works department is taking offers for an engineering firm to oversee the widening project for the stretch of road from the convention center off 36th Avenue to the Fred Meyer on 48th Avenue. The updated roadway will have seven lanes instead of the existing five, making it 30 feet wider in some places, according to city documents.

Features include a bus lane in each direction, left- and U-turn lanes, a median with trees and a green-space buffer between the road and sidewalks. It’s expected to be finished by October 2022.

“Lynnwood is growing and for the city to take a proactive role in building a strong business economy and giving the community what they need, is very important,” said Linda Jones, president and CEO of the city’s Chamber of Commerce. “We support what the city is doing and look forward to offering a beautiful new front door to Lynnwood with the 196th Street project.”

The improvement is one of many projects the city is undertaking to aid expected growth. Lynnwood’s population is nearly 40,000, a number that’s predicted to climb to 54,400 by 2035.

In total, the upgrade covers four intersections on 196th Street. That stretch sees about 50,000 cars daily, according to a Washington-based traffic consultant’s report. Speeds are expected to increase slightly, along with delays.

One of the project’s additions is improved access to the city’s light rail station, which should open by 2024.

Another transportation boost is for buses. The outside lanes on 196th Street will be for public transit only, but drivers can use them to access businesses along the roadway.

Community Transit’s new Orange Line will be one route operating in the lanes, connecting Lynnwood’s light rail station, Alderwood mall, Edmonds Community College and Mill Creek Town Center. Average bus speeds are expected to increase by 13 mph.

Orange Line service is anticipated to start in spring 2024.

Additionally, a report from the Puget Sound Regional Center estimated the improved road will allow for 15,000 new jobs in the area along with 3,000 homes by 2025.

Jones said the Chamber of Commerce is excited about what that could mean for local businesses.

The street project is estimated to cost about $30 million. In order to acquire some of the land for the wider road, the city had to exercise eminent domain, which cost about $5 million.

Applications for engineering firms are due Sept. 5. Selection of a firm is expected by mid-October, with a confirmation vote by the City Council in early December.

In November, the city will start accepting bids for construction. Ground could be broken as soon as March.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3430; Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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