Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we hit the midway point of the 2018 session, I wanted to provide you with a transportation update. I recently recorded a video update to discuss a number of critical projects that will likely be included in the supplemental transportation budget we'll be passing later this session. I invite you to click below to watch the video, and to then scroll down to learn more about these projects.
Lane expansion on northbound SR 167 from Meridian in Puyallup to SR 18: Gov. Inslee's proposed 2017-19 transportation budget
In Gov. Inslee's 2017-19 transportation budget proposal, nearly $20 million ($320,000 from the state and $19 million from the federal government) is allocated for a SR 167/SR 410 to SR 18 congestion management project. This project was included at the request of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), which has classified it as a high priority.
If funded, WSDOT would use the existing highway footprint to create a northbound HOV lane to provide congestion relief for drivers using northbound SR 167 between Puyallup and Auburn. Additionally, a series of new cameras would be installed to provide coverage in areas where gaps currently exist, increasing WSDOT's ability to respond to incidents and communicate real-time traffic conditions.
Keeping SR 167 on the Connecting Washington schedule with full access to Puyallup
In 2015, the Legislature passed the $16 billion Connecting Washington transportation funding package. The package provided funding for the Puget Sound Gateway Program, which will complete State Route 167 in Pierce County and State Route 509 to the Port of Tacoma. The completion of these highways will provide added capacity and improved connectivity, which will mean better commuter and freight mobility in and around our area. Under the current funding schedule, construction will begin in mid-2019 and be completed by 2025. The Legislature made advance purchases of additional right-of-ways in last year's transportation budget, which will help reduce the overall cost of the project and help expedite its completion. The 25th District delegation is working closely with WSDOT and our local city councils to ensure this project keeps to its established timeline and includes full access points to Puyallup.
Introducing a budget proviso regarding SR 162
The Connecting Washington package also included funding for a “SR 162 Sumner to Orting Corridor Planning Study,” which you can read here. The goal of the study — requested by city administrators in East Pierce County, the Pierce County Council, emergency responders, local chambers of commerce, the Regional Access Mobility Partnership (RAMP), and Pierce County legislators — was to provide the groundwork to move forward on needed transportation improvements along the corridor.
In June 2017, WSDOT completed its “Phase I Practical Solutions Study” of the SR 162/410 corridor. While we know traffic in the SR 162 corridor is already bad, the study revealed we are at risk of seeing a much greater negative impact on levels of service (LOS) over the next 20 years if nothing is done. In fact, the study predicted traffic along the corridor would be at WSDOT's lowest level of service — LOS “F” — during most of the day.
We must ensure the SR162/410 section of the corridor receives proper attention from WSDOT. I have joined other Pierce County legislators in asking for a $200,000 supplemental budget proviso that would direct WSDOT to develop a refined solution to the SR 162/410 interchange based on the recommendations in the corridor planning study. WSDOT would be required to report back to the Legislature in time for East Pierce communities to seek design money in the 2019-20 biannual transportation budget.
Traffic Avenue Bridge
In 2016, the Legislature approved $300,000 for design planning for the expansion of the bridge over SR 410. Local jurisdictions have raised several million dollars through local, state and federal matching grants, but a few million dollars are still needed to complete the bridge. We are working with our fellow legislators to ensure the remaining funding is secured.
Next week, I'll be sending out another email update covering a wider range of issues. In the meantime, if you have any transportation-related questions, or questions about any other policy areas, please don't hesitate to reach out to my office. My contact information is below.
It is an honor to serve you.