Lynnwood is using eminent domain to acquire the last parcels of land needed to widen 196th Street SW. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

Lynnwood is using eminent domain to acquire the last parcels of land needed to widen 196th Street SW. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

Lynnwood prepares to seize properties for street widening

The land is needed to add lanes to the busiest east-west corridor 196th Street SW, officials say.

LYNNWOOD — With construction on 196th Street SW set to start next summer, Lynnwood has resorted to eminent domain to acquire the last pieces of land needed to widen the busy arterial through an area the city envisions as its future downtown.

The city has worked out deals with owners of 40 of the 45 affected parcels, paying out about $5 million, according to David Mach, public works manager.

In July, the city filed three eminent domain suits to obtain the rest of the property. Lynnwood wants the land to increase vehicle capacity along 196th, which is already one of the city’s busiest streets.

Early next year, the city plans to put the project out to bid.

“Before we can do that we need to secure all the properties,” Mach said. “We don’t want a few properties holding up the $30 million project.”

The lawsuits were filed because negotiations involving a few parcels were going slowly, and the owners weren’t making counter offers, Mach said.

He said the city rarely uses eminent domain.

Businesses line that section of 196th. Two of the city’s lawsuits were filed against limited liability companies with out-of-state addresses. Neither of the companies have publicly listed phone numbers. The third property is owned by someone who also could not be reached.

The project will widen the street from the Lynnwood Convention Center to the Fred Meyer store. The city is planning to add two lanes to the five that now exist.

The additional lanes will be reserved for buses and vehicles turning to and from businesses.

As more people use transit in that area, it will become about moving people, not cars, Mach said. The project is in Lynnwood’s City Center, where an urban-style downtown is planned — and not far from the future Lynnwood light rail station.

Mach said the new lanes will help keep traffic flowing.

The city also is widening sidewalks and adding median barriers to prevent cars from turning left. Drivers will have to make U-turns at intersections to access businesses on the left.

The current setup, which allows left turns across several lanes of traffic, is prone to collisions, Mach said.

Much of the funding for the $30 million project is from federal and state grants.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

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