LYNNWOOD — The city is asking for federal money to design a new southbound I-5 freeway exit to give drivers easier access to north Lynnwood and reduce the traffic backup on 196th Street SW.
The proposed exit would be built at I-5 and Alderwood Mall Parkway near Alderwood Mall.
“If we can get that freeway exit funded, it would be a tremendous thing for the city,” said Lynnwood Mayor Mike McKinnon. “It would move traffic on and off the freeway much more easily.”
The new exit would decrease traffic at the 164th Street and 196th Street I-5 exits, said Lynnwood’s public works director, Bill Vlcek. The 196th Street exit is the main southbound exit into the center of Lynnwood and is often clogged with cars.
More than 70,000 vehicles use 196th Street SW. every day, Vlcek said.
An exit near Alderwood Mall could trim 10 to 15 minutes off the time it takes drivers to get to north Lynnwood or Brier, McKinnon said. It could also smooth the way for future city development.
“We want to have a bigger mall doing more business and an exciting, vibrant city center without impacting Lynnwood residents,” the mayor said. The project is part of an effort to improve traffic flow throughout the city.
Drivers tired of delays getting into the city from south I-5 shouldn’t expect relief anytime soon, though. Even if the city can get the money for the $25 million project, construction won’t begin for at least five years, Vlcek said.
The city is seeking $2 million for preliminary engineering work now, and would apply for more state and federal grant money to complete the project, he said.
During a visit to Washington, D.C., this week for a National League of Cities meeting, McKinnon discussed the freeway project with Sens. Patty Murray, and Maria Cantwell, both Democrats, and Rep. Jay Inslee, a Democrat who represents the 1st Congressional District.
McKinnon asked for money for the freeway design and showed them a map of what I-5 would look like with the new exit.
“Each one of them looked at this very closely and liked it very much and are enthusiastic about this project,” McKinnon said. The new exit isn’t the only traffic project Lynnwood is seeking money for. The city also is trying to come up with money to widen 44th Avenue W. and 196th Street SW., Vlcek said.
The city will soon receive a $2 million federal grant for Lynnwood’s Intelligent Transportation System. The money, which was included in a recently approved federal spending bill, will pay to upgrade the city’s traffic signals from 1970s technology to a new system that will improve traffic flow, Vlcek said. The technology will allow technicians to adjust traffic signals from City Hall instead of manually changing lights, he said.
“It’s a lot more flexible” than the old system, Vlcek said.
McKinnon asked for money for the system during his visit to Washington, D.C., last year.
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