New signs planned near JBLM to help calm traffic

Joint Base Lewis-McChord officials have agreed to work with the City of Lakewood to reduce cut-through traffic in a neighborhood next to the base.

Residents in the neighborhood north of American Lake have raised concerns that growth at the part of the base known as Lewis North is prompting drivers to divert onto their quiet streets. Neighbors say drivers speed and blow past stop signs to get around the rush-hour gridlock on Interstate 5.

Lakewood city employees arranged a meeting Feb. 15 with senior Lewis-McChord officials, and they agreed to assist with several steps the city is pursuing.

“They definitely want to work with us and help fix the problem,” said Desiree Winkler, the city’s transportation division manager.

Base officials agreed to allow the city to install “reduce speed” signs along the road that connects Lewis North with the neighborhood. Another sign will disallow right turns from 4-6 p.m. at a key intersection to prevent traffic from diverting onto other streets in the neighborhood to avoid long backups.

The signs will go up by March 15, and Winkler said the right-turn prohibition will be enforced.

The base and the city also will conduct traffic counts in the next few weeks to determine how much cut-through traffic originates from the base.

Finally, Lewis-McChord has agreed to apply for Pentagon funds designated for off-base public road improvements in an attempt to fix a problem intersection that is at the center of the gridlock.

“We understand that commuter traffic leaving JBLM Lewis North contributes to the traffic congestion in this particular Lakewood neighborhood, and we appreciate the opportunity to work with Lakewood to develop a solution,” base spokesman Joe Piek wrote in an email.

Winkler said another meeting with neighbors is planned between late March and mid-April to provide an update and discuss other traffic-calming measures.

The News Tribune