Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

LYNNWOOD — One of few universal truths, at least for Snohomish County residents, is that driving near Alderwood Mall can be frustrating.

But getting to REI in Lynnwood is easier than going down to the flagship location in Seattle. A trip to the Costco on 33rd Avenue West after a run to the mall isn’t out of the question either.

Given the traffic nightmare at the superstore, Lynnwood is looking to improve traffic flow there.

Part of the problem is simply the number of roads there — five different roads connect in a quagmire slightly smaller than a football field. The newest is 33rd Avenue, built when Costco arrived on the land in 2015 where Lynnwood High School once stood.

The intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W has a stoplight. Alderwood Mall Parkway and 33rd Avenue W does too. Two major lights in very close proximity contribute to backups there.

“This intersection is really causing problems and messing with traffic,” Lynnwood City Engineer David Mach said on a recent tour surveying traffic.

One solution to the quagmire could be a roundabout at 33rd Avenue W into the Costco parking lot, instead of the tight road that’s there now. When Lynnwood High School was where Costco is now, people used to cut through the parking lot. Now it’s a road.

(Costco did not immediately respond to a Herald reporter’s inquiry about traffic issues Friday.)

In that plan, the city would replace the traffic light at 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W with a stoplight. It would also add a median to prevent left turns from 30th Place W onto 33rd Avenue W.

This would inconvenience residents near the Stadler Ridge Park area, who might use this route to get to the mall.

“There’s multiple ways to get home,” Mach said. “It’s just not quite as quick.”

The city is studying two other main alternatives. One would prevent drivers on 33rd Avenue W from turning left onto 30th Place W. The third would add a second eastbound through-lane at 30th Place W.

The city is also taking suggestions from residents.

One proposal would extend 179th Street SW to connect with Alderwood Mall Parkway. Mach said city staff ran the idea through a simulation, but worried another traffic light would make backups worse.

“We wanted to look at these options that people came to us with,” Mach said.

The traffic quandaries continue past Costco.

Following 33rd Avenue’s intersection with Alderwood Mall Parkway, it turns into Maple Road, which takes a driver onto Larch Way. Before it crosses under Highway 525, though, it connects with an unsignaled intersection at Ash Way.

All of those branches coming together is where thing get a little funky.

The default route from Alderwood Mall back to I-5 on both Google and Apple Maps takes a person through Ash Way — creating a dangerous mess where some drivers have to turn left across Maple Road, an arterial route.

Westbound drivers backed up on Maple nearly always leave space for turning drivers to squeeze through to Ash. But that’s not ideal. Lynnwood is prevented by hydrology from improving the intersection, Mach said.

The ground around Highway 525 is a peat bog, and a couple years ago the intersection of Ash Way and Maple Road had to be stabilized because the ground was moving. Local officials worried about the supports for the I-405 overpass and used culverts to fix that problem. Supports on the freeway are stable, Mach noted.

“The freeway wasn’t sinking, but the ground around, it was settling. And then with the culverts in the creek, it caused the road to flood during the big storms. So that was all raised fast,” Mach said. “And it’s all on piles, there’s tons of piles underneath. So we just don’t want to really touch anything.”

A westbound lane on Maple Road near the ARCO gas station could be added to allow for more traffic, he said.

Jordan Hansen: 425-339-3046;; Twitter: @jordyhansen.

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