Study aims to improve Tacoma Tideflats transportation

State and local transportation departments have a new tool to prioritize and seek funding for road and rail improvements in...

State and local transportation departments have a new tool to prioritize and seek funding for road and rail improvements in the Tacoma Tideflats area, Port of Tacoma officials announced Friday. The Tideflats Area Transportation Study — which covers the port industrial area, downtown Tacoma, the City of Fife, and portions of unincorporated Pierce County and Puyallup Indian Reservation, and brings together a diverse set of stakeholders, including the Port of Tacoma, Washington State Department of Transportation, Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, City of Fife, City of Tacoma, Marine View Ventures (an entity of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians), Pierce County and SSA Marine — produced a coordinated transportation plan that came to two key conclusions: investments in the corridor will not improve without completing State Route 167; and specific projects would augment a completed SR 167 to improve traffic further.

The recommended package of transportation improvements was selected to better serve truck freight traffic in the area and sustain growth over the next 20 years. The study does not include the completion of SR 167, which previous studies already identified as essential by 2030 to prevent the transportation system’s failure. The study’s projects instead identify smaller projects that could ease localized pinch points now and enhance the overall system after SR 167 is finally complete.

The recommended projects identified in the study include:

I. Tideflats Area Access

— Extend Canyon Road from Pioneer Way across the Puyallup River to 70th Avenue East;

— Rebuild I?5 interchange at 54th Avenue East;

— Complete the Port of Tacoma Road interchange upgrade at I?5.

II. Port Access

— On Port of Tacoma Road, add a truck lane southbound to I?5 and a truck queuing lane for access to the Port;

— Construct slip ramps on SR 509 at D Street;

— At the Milwaukee Way and Marshall Street intersection, add a signal, railroad flashers, and gates with a traffic signal intertie;

— Extend the A/D rail line east to Taylor Way to remove train blockages of Milwaukee Way and East 11th Street.

III. Industrial Access

— Build overcrossings of I?5 at Frank Albert Road and 62nd Avenue E between 20th Street East and Pacific Highway East;

— Upgrade intersections along Portland Avenue between SR 509 and I?5;

— Implement an arterial Intelligent Transportation System to guide travelers to and from industrial sites and coordinate signals;

— Widen intersections of 54th Avenue East at Pacific Highway East and 20th Street East;

— Upgrade 12th Street East between 62nd Avenue East and 34th Avenue East;

— Upgrade 20th Street East between Port of Tacoma Road and 63rd Avenue East.

IV. Local Access

— Construct a grade separation at the 54th Avenue East Union Pacific railroad crossing to re?open the street;

— Make intersection improvements along Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma;

— Widen 20th Street East to three lanes between 70th Avenue East and Freeman Road.

Altogether, the study’s recommended projects and the unfunded portion of supporting projects assumed to be built by 2030 total between $579 million and $679 million, not including the completion of SR 167. While that’s a significant amount, officials hope the study’s unified voice will help the identified projects gain traction for future funding. Projects that demonstrate broad benefit and support among multiple jurisdictions often rise higher on regional and federal priority lists. The local jurisdictions can begin to include the projects in their transportation improvement plans to be considered for funding. To read the full Tideflats Area Transportation Study online, visit http://www.portoftacoma.com/tats .

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