Plans are moving forward for the extension of State Route 167 as a way to better connect the warehouse and distribution hub of the Kent Valley to the Tacoma Tideflats and ease traffic through the region.
Washington State Department of Transportation staffers held a series of public meetings about the state of the plans and are planning another round this summer regarding the interchange design options and construction timelines for various phases of the project.
“We want to continue to make sure we are communicating with the largest portion of the public,” Project Manager Steve Fuchs said. “Not everyone comes to open houses. We are kind of developing that outreach right now.”
The first of those phases will involve the reconfiguration of the overpass around Fife’s 70th Avenue, which will start in 2019 and take about two years. A second part of the first phase will come in 2021 and involve work from I-5 to SR 509. Work on the Puyallup to Interstate 5 section of the six-mile roadway will come in 2025 and could take about five years.
The entire project will take about 16 years and come at a cost of more than $1 billion that will be paid largely through the Connecting Washington transportation package lawmakers approved in 2015 but also includes local funding and millions of dollars in toll revenue that will be collected when the roadway opens. Those toll amounts, however, have not been set and must still gain legislative approval.
“That is quite a ways away yet,” Fuchs said.
SR 167 is the main freeway connecting the industrial and warehouses of Kent and Puyallup River valleys to the shipping operations on the Tideflats. This new highway segment will eventually provide two general-purpose lanes in each direction and will also include a commuter lane in each direction from I-5 to Puyallup. Interchanges along the whole route will be built at SR 509, 54th Avenue, I-5, Valley Avenue and Meridian to provide travelers with faster, safer travel options than the current configuration that is often congested with truck traffic.
The web of on- and off-ramps along the route create some design challenges. One notable one will be found at SR 167 and I-5 in what is called a diverging diamond Interchange that will have drivers actually crossing from the right lane to the left and then back again once they cross I-5. The interchange will be the second one of its kind in the state, behind one in the works at I-5 and Marvin Road in Lacey. There are some 60 diverging diamond interchanges around the nation.
“It’s definitely different,” Fuchs said, noting however that the lanes will be channeled with signs and dividers to make navigation through the roadway easier for drivers.
Information about the project can be found at wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr167/tacomatoedgewood.