Mixed feelings in Kenmore over extra traffic from 520 tolling

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jakewhittenberg

KING5.com

Posted on December 29, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 30 at 9:13 AM

KENMORE, Wash. -- The Washington Department of Transportation is expecting drivers to go out of their way to save a few bucks either by taking I-90 or heading north of Lake Washington to Highway 522.

That could cause some extra congestion, specifically to areas such as Kenmore where the 522 runs right through the middle of the city.  
 
Right now, Kenmore is using traffic devices to count how many drivers will start making the 522 their regular route and the city's mayor says they'll use those statistics to prove the extra traffic will will only cause problems.
 
For a business that relies on drive-thru traffic Jillian's Espresso is in for a treat.
 
"Everyone's going to be coming this way!" said Kiersten Rondorf, manager of the coffee stand. "We're just trying to get our signs set up right and have specials going everyday." 
 
And a bump in traffic on 522 isn't such a bad thing for area businesses.
You won't hear the owners of Bothell Ski and Bike complaining.
 
"Possibly people that have not seen our business before will now see it and that can lead to future customers," said co-owner Greg Pergament.
 
Not this holiday week, but normally about 50,000 drivers use the highway every day.  And it can be congested.
 
The state estimates about 6,000 more cars a day will use 522.  But Kenmore Mayor David Baker thinks that number is way off.
 
"That's absurd," said Baker.
 
Baker is confident at least 10,000 extra vehicles will squeeze onto 522 and Juanita Drive.
 
"These cars that are coming through here are wearing our roads out, but not contributing to the tax base to maintain those roads," said Baker. 
 
The state isn't prepared to sink more money into 522, but says its monitoring traffic patterns and might consider increasing the green light time.
 
"We want to ask them for the money that we believe is necessary to make the road, their highway, safer for the people in our community," said Baker. 
 
WSDOT says it could take six months to get a clear picture of people's new driving habits.
The nearby city of Bothell says it's also keeping a close eye on the traffic patterns.  Both cities say the true test will come next week after the holidays.

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