Traffic nightmare in Sumner area changing the way people live

SUMNER, Wash. -- The Bonney Lake-Sumner area is becoming increasingly popular, with new neighborhoods popping up and plenty of families to fill them.

But that means the roads are filling up as well, and it is creating what locals now call a congested mess. It is especially bad around the 166th/410 interchange. 

“It is really frustrating,” said Robert Payne, who drives the road regularly. “It’s also kind of scary.”

Yvonne Queen runs a storage business just off the interchange, and she says the back-ups are costing her business.

“It makes it really hard for people to get in here,” said Queen. “And I totally understand it. I hate having to come in against that traffic and I have to be here.”

Locals say the drivers coming through there and on nearby SR 162 are trying to avoid SR 167, which also turns into a parking lot during commuting hours.

Sumner’s mayor says the interchange, built in the 70s, worked fine when Sumner and Bonney Lake were known as sleepy communities. But over the last decade, more and more families are calling the place home, and that is putting more and more cars on the streets. Traffic is now the No. 1 complaint he hears from his constituents.

“I would tell you the major frustration is traffic,” said Mayor Bill Pugh.

During the evening commutes, traffic can back up for miles. Some spots, like the 410 off-ramp, don’t have traffic signals, and trying to make a left hand turn there can be frustrating and dangerous.

“If they want to turn left to go to the auto dealership, or to Winco, it’s nearly impossible,” said Pugh. “I’ve seen people do some really weird, dangerous things to get out and make that left turn.”

The mayor says the city of Sumner does have some ideas to help alleviate traffic, including widening 166th, adding signals to the on and off ramps, and perhaps installing roundabouts.

The city has set aside $150,000 but the solutions would cost millions, and it’s not part of the state’s budget that runs through 2021, though WSDOT is willing to work with Sumner to come up with some ideas to improve the traffic mess.

In the meantime, drivers like Brett Gagner will continue to adjust their schedules to avoid the back-ups. He goes into work at 2 in the morning just so he can stay out of the congested mess giving drivers so many headaches.

“If you’re in a hurry to get home, it’s a pain," he said.