Burgeoning JBLM putting strain on roads, locals say

LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- Lakewood residents say backups and bottlenecks are a sign their local roads are broken.

The population at nearby JBLM has nearly doubled from 22,000 to about 40,000 in the past 10 years, and Lakewood residents say it's putting a strain on their local roads.

The backups are particularly bad during the evening commute where those 40,000 people come and go from any of the base's 13 outlets. But near North Lewis, residents say the population boom makes for quarter mile backups during peak travel hours.

Lakewood city officials say when drivers see the traffic jam at North Gate and Edgewood, they divert through neighborhood streets -- and many are speeding. Although the speed limit is 25 mph, 85 percent of drivers go at least 40, officials said.

And those who do brave the traffic get stuck.

"I'm talking maybe 20-25 cars deep at times," said Marcel Sanpaga.

The city says additional signage and speed enforcement may be the answer. They also think removing stop signs and making the intersection free flowing could free up traffic.

A JBLM spokesman says you can just blame the traffic trouble on the base as local population has grown around the region as well.