Final EIS released on Cross-Base Highway

Officials celebrated the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the Cross-Base Highway project during a Friday morning press conference in front of the Pierce County Annex.

The so-called “missing link” in the region’s transportation system, the Cross-Base Highway is a proposed six-mile road connecting State Route 7 to Interstate 5, designated State Route 704. The $180 million project would connect McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis, providing a short-cut of sorts and serving as a much-needed alternative to the over-burdened State Route 512.

The FEIS is a milestone in what has been a 17-year effort to alleviate steadily worsening traffic congestion in Parkland, Spanaway, Frederickson and South Hill.

Speakers stressed not only traffic relief, but economic opportunities as well.

“This is an investment in the economy of Pierce County,” said state Sen. Jim Kastama, who represents the 25th Legislative District.

“Businesses will become more competitive in a more global economy,” he said, noting the Boeing plant in Frederickson as an example.

Karen Goon, who was recently appointed as special assistant for transportation, read a statement on behalf of Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg.

In the statement, Ladenburg said he views the Cross-Base Highway as a central link to the development of Pierce County.

Jack Fabulich, a member of the Port of Tacoma Commission, described the project as “vital to our economy.” If handled right, he said it could bring hundreds of jobs to the area. “We support it 100 percent,” he said.

Spanaway Community Action Network President Marianne Lincoln, a longtime supporter of the project, said transportation is out of sync with the growth of traffic and housing in the area.

“It has discouraged businesses with better paying jobs from coming into our community,” she said. “We know the community supports construction of the highway as well,” she added.

The Cross-Base Highway project got its start back in 1986 when Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base officials agreed in concept to a connecting corridor between I-5 and the Parkland/Spanaway area. Plans call for a four-lane highway between I-5 (Thorne Lane Interchange) and SR 7 (Pacific Highway). The project would create an an east-west capacity to connect developing areas in mid-Pierce County with the I-5 corridor, including industrial development at Frederickson.

The three lead agencies for the project include the Federal Highway Administration, Washington State Department of Transportation and Pierce County.

Two public workshops on the FEIS are scheduled: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 14, Woodbrook Middle School cafeteria, 14920 Spring St., Lakewood; and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, Camas Prairie Elementary School multi-purpose room, 320 – 176th St. East, Spanaway.

Public comment will be accepted until Nov. 14.