A rendering of the Poplar Way bridge over Interstate 5 in Lynnwood. (City of Lynnwood)

A rendering of the Poplar Way bridge over Interstate 5 in Lynnwood. (City of Lynnwood)

Lynnwood’s Poplar Way bridge over I-5 gets $25M federal boost

Designs show a six-lane road with bike lanes and sidewalks between 196th Street SW and Alderwood Mall Boulevard.

LYNNWOOD — A long-sought project to build six lanes crossing I-5 and connecting major retail centers in Lynnwood is getting a $25 million federal infusion.

U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen announced the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded grant funding for the city’s Poplar Way bridge extension Tuesday. Both Democratic representatives supported the project, estimated to cost nearly $50 million, in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The bridge would link 196th Street SW (which also is Highway 524) and Poplar Way across I-5 with Alderwood Mall Boulevard. That would let northbound drivers skirt the circuitous route to Alderwood Mall and other destinations along 33rd Avenue W. Its northern end will also get people closer to the light rail station near the mall planned with the Everett Link extension in 2037.

“This critical infrastructure project will foster economic growth and revitalization, as well as relieve congestion, improve public safety, increase transportation equity, and create important community connections,” Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell said in a statement.

Highway 524 in the area saw around 30,000 vehicles per day last year, according to Washington State Department of Transportation data.

City and state officials have sought funding for the project for years to ease backups at the ramps from and to I-5, which the Congress members echoed in their letter backing the project.

“This congestion increases traffic accidents, greenhouse gas emissions, transit line disruptions and reduces the efficiency of freight mobility,” their letter stated.

Climate action advocates have criticized projects that widen roads for their tendency to increase greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. DOT also has commitments to reduce nationwide emissions at least 50% by 2030.

An aerial schematic of the Poplar Way bridge over Interstate 5 in Lynnwood. (City of Lynnwood)

An aerial schematic of the Poplar Way bridge over Interstate 5 in Lynnwood. (City of Lynnwood)

Bridge designs show six lanes for vehicles plus a bike lane and sidewalks in each direction. Two lanes from the bridge to Highway 524 would be for left turns. One westbound lane would take drivers onto northbound I-5, and another lane would be for left turns onto Alderwood Mall Boulevard.

The project also includes grade changes at the bridge’s intersections and widening parts of 33rd Avenue W, 196th Street SW, Alderwood Mall Boulevard and Poplar Way.

During construction, a section of the Interurban Trail along the boulevard will have a detour. The project also includes lowering the trail to go under part of the bridge.

Community Transit’s Route 196 currently crosses I-5 on 196th Street SW between the Ash Way Park and Ride and Edmonds Station. In two years, the Orange Swift bus rapid transit line will run between Edmonds College and the McCollum Park Park and Ride in Mill Creek, including along Alderwood Mall Boulevard near the Poplar Way bridge.

“We will be reviewing the project timeline and how it aligns with our 2024 and 2027 network restructure efforts” for how it could affect local bus routes, said Monica Spain, a spokesperson for Community Transit.

The city has already spent about $7 million on designs and other preliminary work. The Legislature’s Move Ahead Washington transportation package included $10 million for the Poplar Way project. Even with $25 million from the U.S. DOT, city officials estimate another $5 million is needed to construct the project.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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