Commuters are a step closer to seeing traffic relief along the corridor serving Joint Base Lewis-McChord thanks to $6.9 million provided by the Washington Legislature.
The funding, contained in the transportation budget approved just before the end of the Legislature’s regular session, will pay for in-depth analyses of five Interstate 5 interchanges in Pierce and Thurston counties. It’s a critical step before dirt starts moving.
The studies, known as Interchange Justification Reports, will address Thorne Lane, Berkeley Avenue, Steilacoom-DuPont Road, Marvin Road and Martin Way. The reports will detail precise needs and data that will guide improvements.
Significant growth in Pierce and Thurston Counties, including at JBLM, has increased travel demand that frequently exceeds the capacity of both the mainline and interchanges in the area. These five interchanges serve as a key commuter and regional freight corridor, and are vital to the success of JBLM’s mission.
The funding request was initiated by South Sound Military and Communities Partnership (SSMCP), which facilitates communication and planning for hundreds of regional military-related organizations and agencies. The partnership’s primary goal is to communicate military-related activity that could affect the South Sound Community.
“We are proud to have partnered with communities across Pierce and Thurston Counties and with the South Sound Military and Communities Partnership to secure this necessary funding,” said state Reps. Connie Ladenburg (29th District) and Chris Reykdal (22nd District). “This investment will ensure the South Sound I-5 corridor will be eligible for vital capacity infrastructure projects sooner. It will enhance the movement of commerce as well as increase safety and reduce traffic congestion. “This was a wonderful collaboration to address our region’s growth needs associated with JBLM.”
Lakewood Mayor Douglas Richardson, a co-chair of the partnership said, “We appreciate the leadership demonstrated by our legislators in Pierce and Thurston counties to get this done. The state’s willingness to invest in improving traffic on the I-5 corridor is critical to improving traffic flow around the base and throughout the region. This will allow us to compete for state and federal transportation funding in the future to construct the recommended improvements.”
The Martin Way Interchange is one of I-5’s major access points serving the South Sound. The Marvin Road Interchange is the only freeway access point serving the Hawks Prairie vicinity — the City of Lacey’s most opportune area for development and job creation. Full development of Hawks Prairie could create as many as 18,000 new jobs.
In Pierce County, the completed IJR will facilitate new interchanges and additional lanes, which are expected to improve freight speed and reliability throughout the day.
“Preliminary data show we can reduce peak congestion for the average motorist by 70 percent, reducing back-ups and stop-and-go traffic along the I-5 mainline,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, another co-chair of the community partnership. “These are significant improvements, and I appreciate that our legislators worked so hard to secure this crucial funding.”