Stanwood leaders want to free downtown from traffic that’s just passing through.
One solution they’re considering: a bypass.
After evaluating how traffic moves around and in downtown, as well as where it comes from and goes, city staff think a spur on the west end of town could disperse those drivers. Roundabouts at each end of the bypass linking Highway 532 to the northern city limits also could be part of the project.
Doing so would take at least 10 years, maybe 20, and cost millions of dollars to acquire property for the new north-south link.
But city leaders say it’s the best option to address population growth in the area and the subsequent traffic that stems from so many drivers.
“While increased traffic causes driver frustration, it also brings economic vitality to a community,” reads a city news release about a survey related to the idea. “The question becomes: how to manage traffic while promoting economic development and preserving community identity…”
Five options for a north-south spur from Highway 532 were presented in an online open house that ran between June and July. Each design connects with Highway 532 west of downtown and east of Lovers Road, north through existing agricultural land, across a rail line, and links to 102nd Avenue NW, also called Old Pacific Highway.
Survey results from the open house were not available but Community Development Director Patricia Love said staff expect to present it to the Stanwood City Council on Sept. 13.
A 2020 traffic study by the city showed about 20% of daily traffic on Highway 532 goes north along 102nd Avenue NW of Pioneer Highway.
The Washington State Department of Transportation estimated that 15,000 vehicles used Highway 532 in the heart of Stanwood every day in 2020.
The city wants to alleviate some of its worst traffic along Highway 532 between 98th Drive NW and 103rd Drive NW, with particular backups near 102nd Avenue NW/Old Pacific Highway.
Staff hope the bypass, if built, would pull traffic out of and around downtown, freeing the area of frequent gridlock, especially along 102nd Avenue NW, which becomes Old Pacific Highway north of downtown.
With that traffic gone, it would let Stanwood redesign downtown into a walkable center with wide sidewalks, walking trails and bike paths.
As part of the project, a consulting firm considered designs for buffered bike lanes, either adjacent to parking or a two-way cycle track, between the two roundabouts on Highway 532.
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