Lakewood gets the free right turn; now residents want a new freeway ramp

Lakewood residents are relieved that the free right turn is back on 172nd Street NE.  The lane allows cars to stop and drop onto the southbound I-5 onramp without waiting for a green light. -
Lakewood residents are relieved that the free right turn is back on 172nd Street NE. The lane allows cars to stop and drop onto the southbound I-5 onramp without waiting for a green light.
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After a years absence the free right turn is back for Lakewood residents driving eastbound on 172nd Street NE.
The approach to the southbound on-ramp to I-5 was recently re-striped and widened to accommodate another lane of eastbound traffic to feed directly onto the freeway after a chorus of complaints from locals residents.
For the last year drivers headed for the southbound freeway had to share a lane with those heading over the Smokey Point interchange, an inconvenience that enraged locals used to just stopping at the light and then making a quick right onto the onramp.
When the Lakewood Crossing shopping center opened last fall state engineers removed the right turn lane and locals complained loudly to the city of Marysville, which annexed Lakewood in 2005.
As more than 13,000 local daily trips to the mall clog roads, residents like JoAnn DeLazzari vented to state, local and federal officials, to no avail. Earlier this year the Washington State Department of Transportation relented by allowing the city to remove a bike lane from 200 feet of the south side of 172nd where the eastbound lane approaches the freeway. Lakewood Crossings owner Powell Development of Kirkland paid for the work, which was delayed over the summer by a lack of proper fasteners for signs, among other reasons.
In the mean time DeLazzari and other residents of the Crystal Tree Village housing development fumed. They said afternoon traffic on 27th Avenue NE was so bad that they didnt think emergency responders could get to their retirement community in case of an emergency. The free right turn was an easy solution they wanted ASAP, and now DeLazzari hopes the city and state will follow through on other improvements.
It is very helpful. Its not the best solution but its the only one we are going to get, DeLazzari said. Right now its taking the volume but its not Christmas. Its going to ease the problem now but its not the longterm solution.
She and her neighbors would like to see a slip ramp installed on Twin Lakes Avenue to allow traffic to bypass the Smokey Point bridge and get on the southbound freeway lanes about a mile south of the new retail development featuring a Target, Costco and other stores. The slip ramp is a possible solution according to city engineer Kevin Nielsen but the federal highway administration would take years to approve such a change. And then it would have to be funded.
Marysville instead is planning on building a bridge to cross the freeway at about the same area, with a full or partial cloverleaf interchange to follow later. Later is not soon enough for DeLazzari and her neighbors. Many are in their 80s and 90s, and not interested in making such far off plans.
It will help a great deal, but its still three years down the road, she said.
More housing and retail developments slated for Lakewood mean there be more cars on the road grid and no solutions in sight. DeLazzari said she has written Gov. Christine Gregoire, both U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U. S. Rep. Rick Larsen.

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