Tour for congressman touts Cross-Base Highway role

Proponents of the SR 704 Cross-Base Highway project scored a victory when a congressman who holds the key for transportation project funding toured the proposed highway’s corridor Aug. 8.

The tour for U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg of Michigan was led by Pierce County Executive John W. Ladenburg, Council Chairman Shawn Bunney, Councilmember Roger Bush and Public Works and Utilities Director Brian Ziegler. U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Auburn and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton also participated in the tour, which included the “missing link” between the SR 167 terminus at Meridian in Puyallup and the Port of Tacoma and the freight mobility rail project between the Port of Tacoma and Frederickson.

“These are big projects for Pierce County and the entire Puget Sound region. Our economies are tied together, so it’s important to get these important projects completed for the benefit of people in Pierce, King, Snohomish, Kitsap and Thurston counties,” Ladenburg said.

Ladenburg said he was particularly proud of the Cross-Base Highway project, which would provide a direct route to Interstate 5 from the Frederickson Industrial Area via the 176th Street East corridor. The proposed highway would benefit both economic development and the environment, he said.

Bunney said Frederickson represents the largest manufacturing and industrial site with land available in the region and that the Cross-Base Highway corridor is key to its development. “Eventually we’ll be able to improve 176th to Orting, creating a new South County corridor that is desperately needed to stay current with growth and our transportation and economic development needs,” he said.

Bush said that in addition to improving freight mobility and economic development access, the Cross-Base Highway will improve security at both Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base. “We will provide a fully secured highway project. The opportunity of working in partnership with county, state and federal governments is exciting,” Bush said.

Knollenberg, who is chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Development, said he welcomed the opportunity to view the three projects firsthand. “Since becoming chair (earlier this year), I’ve been trying to get around the country and see project sites. This is the best way to get a grip on what’s taking place,” he said.

Reichert, who invited Knollenberg to make the Pierce County visit, said the three projects are vital for moving goods and will benefit the local economy greatly. “I’m pleased that Congressman Knollenberg was able to stop by and visit the projects that are important to us,” Reichert said.

Bunney said Pierce County is looking forward to working with Knollenberg on its appropriation requests for the projects. “We owe great thanks to Congressman Reichert for securing the visit and advocating for these projects,” Bunney said.