Army wants new gate; DuPont says to study it
The Army wants to construct the first new gate serving Joint Base Lewis-McChord in more than a decade, but the neighboring city of DuPont believes the project needs further study.
Base officials say the proposed $14 million project would provide a needed access point for soldiers living and working in the Lewis North area and might slightly ease traffic congestion on Interstate 5 through the base.
They say the two gates where soldiers can now enter and leave Lewis North are too few. About 40 percent of soldiers stationed on the base live and work in Lewis North; the bases total active-duty population has grown from 19,000 to more than 34,000 since 2003.
The new gate would be built at the T intersection of DuPont-Steilacoom and Wharf roads near the Intel campus. There are no homes in the area.
Larry Freeman, chief of installation access at Lewis-McChord, said he expects soldiers and their families living in DuPont and communities in Thurston County would prefer to use the new gate when it opens. That should divert some vehicles that would otherwise continue on Interstate 5 to reach Lewis North using other gates.
But DuPont city officials say they want a more detailed look at whether this shift would result in more congestion around the two I-5 interchanges serving DuPont and its other intersections. They arent opposed to the project but feel a review is needed.
We havent put all those pieces of the puzzle together yet, said DuPont Public Works Director Peter Zahn of the potential impacts. The (environmental assessment) talks broadly, and it doesnt get to that level of detail.
The Army is reviewing comments received since it released the study as it considers whether more review is needed before moving ahead with the project. Base spokesman J.C. Mathews said the Army will provide the city with the results of the new traffic study when its finished.
We value our relationship with the city, and we look forward to working with them as the project goes forward, he wrote in an e-mail.
The new gate would be built near an entry point that is currently open only for inbound motorists on weekday mornings.
An estimated 700 soldiers arriving for physical training pass through the I Street Gate each morning between 5:15 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. That number is projected to increase to about 1,200 when and if the new gate opens, said Joe Piek, another Lewis-McChord spokesman.
The environmental study acknowledged there would be more vehicles on DuPont-Steilacoom Road due to the proposed gate. But it said the traffic increase isnt expected to be significant, nor would it cause backups, because cars would move quickly through the new gate.
The study also concluded that a new traffic signal at the intersection would slow traffic and make turns onto Wharf Road safer.
About 18 acres of trees and vegetation would be cleared for the project. The Army said in its study that it would replant five white oak trees for every tree cut down. Oregon white oak is the states only native oak species and provides habitat for wildlife the state lists as endangered or threatened.
Construction could begin by the end of the email@example.com