Lake Stevens makes group’s Top 10 Worst Commutes

If you live in Lake Stevens, you probably won’t be surprised to find the city on a financial group’s Top 10 Worst Commutes in the region.

Lake Stevens was No. 8 on the NerdWallet list, which primarily looked at commute times, but also factored in gas prices, insurance premiums, and the numbers of commuters who drive alone and who take transit.

All those other factors are good to have for the overall picture.

But for families like the Guthries, it’s the time spent on the road that’s the worst.

How bad is it?

It’s so bad, the Guthries are planning to move away from Lake Stevens after six years in their tidy suburban oasis.

“It used to take 40 minutes, and now it sometimes takes an hour and 40 minutes,” said Chris Guthrie, who carpools with his wife, Fiona, most days to their jobs at different companies in Redmond.

Having a built-in carpool buddy hasn’t helped much. “There are some days when the carpool lane is slower than the general lanes,” Guthrie said.

Getting to the interstate is usually the hardest part.

“With Lake Stevens being where it is, there are really only two options to go south,” Guthrie said. “You either have to go over the trestle — which is a complete nightmare — or you have to go down Highway 9,” a slog made slower by the increasing numbers of drivers opting for the lesser of two evils. “It’s to the point now where it doesn’t matter what path you take. You’re going to get stuck in traffic.”

Then there’s the drive home. They leave at 5, but often don’t make it home until 6:30 or later.

“That makes for a long day,” Guthrie said.

Their next-door neighbor takes care of their youngest between the time school lets out and they get home. But as soon as their daughter’s done with elementary school a year from now, the family is packing up and moving — even if it means renting for awhile. They’re not the first, they note. And school relationships are the only reason they haven’t left already.

“The commute’s not going to get any better,” Guthrie said.

The number of new housing developments going up in Lake Stevens probably push that from fear to certifiable omen.

It was the housing that first drew families like the Guthries, of course.

“You were getting so much land for the money, so much house. So we thought, well an extra 10, 15 minutes on the freeway is no big deal. But we had no idea the commute was going to get as bad as it has,” Guthrie said.

Other Snohomish County cities fell further down the Worst Commute list, which ranked 45 of the region’s larger cities. Monroe and Snohomish just missed “the worst” (of the worst) at Nos. 11 and 12. Marysville came in at No. 15.

On the flip side, Stanwood residents rated the best commute among Snohomish County cities, ranking at 42 out of 45. Everett followed at No. 38.

Have a question? Email us at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your name and city of residence. Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog.

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