A roughly two-mile section of North Levee Road in Fife that’s been closed to heavy trucks for two years won’t reopen to them anytime soon.
The City Council recently extended a restriction that bans trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds from using the road west of 66th Avenue East.
Council members aren’t expected to consider lifting the ban until expensive improvements are completed on the road, which runs parallel to the Puyallup River, north of River Road.
City officials said they’re not sure when that will happen; the most recent estimate put the cost at more than $10 million.
The council imposed the restriction in the summer of 2010, following a string of truck accidents. In one instance, a truck loaded with diesel fuel rolled off the road toward the river.
“(We’re thankful) it didn’t spill any fuel into the river. That would have been a whole other mess,” said City Council member Glenn Hull.
The restriction was set to expire in August.
But the council this month finalized an extension that’s intended to stand until some improvements – including widening lanes – are made between 66th Avenue and Frank Albert Road.
Without heavy vehicles, “the road is certainly a lot safer for folks who drive it every day and live in that area,” said Mayor Rob Cerqui. He added that the weight restriction hasn’t seemed to increase traffic on other city streets.
Levee Road starts in Puyallup and extends into Fife, where it dead-ends. The restricted section is two lanes, has no median, shoulders or sidewalks and at places is only 18 feet wide, according to information from the city.
The Levee Road restriction isn’t the only one affecting heavy vehicles around the Puyallup Valley, which is a major conduit for freight moving to and from the Port of Tacoma.
The state Department of Transportation last year started limiting heavy vehicles to a single lane on the aging northbound state Route 167 Puyallup River Bridge. The state has plans to replace the 87-year-old structure.
The City of Sumner also this year placed weight restrictions on its Bridge Street Bridge, which dates to the 1920s.
Julie Collins, the Port of Tacoma’s chief external affairs officer, said her agency wants as many routes as possible for trucks going to and from the port. She said the extension of the weight restriction in Fife underscores the “urgent need” to finish building Route 167 between the port and Puyallup, where construction stalled years ago.
Some design work and right-of-way acquisition already is done, but the project still needs millions of dollars. Completing Route 167 would help relieve pressure on roads such as Levee Road, said Collins, who described it as “the ultimate solution.”email@example.com