Pierce County Council coalition amends RTID package

Citing a need to restore critical transportation projects while providing more resources for environmental enhancements, a bipartisan coalition of councilmembers is prepared to introduce an amended plan for Pierce County’s portion of the Regional Transportation Investment District.

The new plan — created by Councilmembers Terry Lee, Calvin Goings, Roger Bush, and Barbara Gelman — calls for restoring the $155 million designated for State Route 704, better known as the cross-base highway, and adds an extra $5 million to the millions already earmarked for natural area enhancements.

Funding for the cross-base highway was recently removed from the RTID package after environmental groups argued construction of the highway would have a negative impact on natural area habitats. Pierce County Executive John Executive, a strong supporter of the highway, threatened to veto the plan.

The coalition’s plan also calls for an additional $135 million for SR 167. The extra money will add a southbound freeway off-ramp and second lane on SR 167 to Valley Avenue so commuters can go from Seattle to Puyallup on I-5 and SR 167 without driving on River Road or surface streets.

Finally, the amended plan designates $50 million for habitat improvements and non-motorized projects.

The coalition’s amended plan will be presented to the RTID Planning Committee June 8. If approved, it will be sent back to the county council to be voted on in ordinance form. The ordinance must be approved by the county council and county executive for the plan to appear on the November ballot in Pierce County.