Some drivers love them, others hate them. But the city is planning to build its first roundabout.
It’s part of a larger series of improvements being designed for a two mile stretch of 35th/36th Avenue W. between 179th Street SW and Highway 99 on the northern edge of Lynnwood. The city is teaming up with Snohomish County for the work because it covers both jurisdictions.
Planners looked at several options to add capacity and improve safety on the busy road. After holding a public meeting in 2009, they settled on a preferred alternative. It includes a 3-lane roadway transitioning to five lanes near Maple Road, bike lanes on both sides, a multi-use trail, a roundabout at 172nd Street SW and a signal at Maple Road/179th Street SW.
“In general, the public was very supportive of the project and many stated that it was a long time coming,” Public Works Director Bill Franz said of the public meeting. “Most all who attended preferred a 3-lane roadway section. They didn’t want 36th Avenue W. to become a ‘mini Highway 99.’”
36th is expected to get even busier in the future, when 179th is extended east to Alderwood Mall Parkway. “Once that happens a lot more traffic will use that to get around the north side of the mall area,” Project Manager David Mach said.
Roundabouts have proven controversial in other cities because they can be difficult to navigate for drivers who aren’t familiar with them.
“I grew up with them when we lived in New Jersey,” Councilman Ted Hikel said. “I don’t like them, because I know when I come up to that circle and there’s someone coming in the opposite direction, I’m always saying ‘I don’t know where that guy’s gonna go.'”
Councilman Jim Smith, on the other hand, likes the idea of a roundabout at 172nd. “I’m 100 percent in favor of that,” he said.
The roundabout and other improvements aren’t a done deal yet. The City Council started discussing the project earlier this week and will revisit it in the next couple of months.
There was also some discussion on the council whether the bike lanes were worth the added cost. Some councilmembers feel that most bicyclists would rather use the sidewalks.
If approved, construction is expected to begin in 2013. Officials say they will try to get grant money to cover the roughly $7 million cost.