City of Puyallup representatives are advocating for the construction of a full interchange at the end of state Route 167 at N. Meridian Ave. in Puyallup as the Washington State Department of Transportation moves forward on a project to expand and complete the freeway from Tacoma to Edgewood.
The project is one part of WSDOT’s Puget Sound Gateway Program, which is intended to “relieve traffic congestion and improve freight mobility” along Puget Sound, according to WSDOT’s website.
The original planned route for SR 167 ran from Renton to Tacoma, but the project was halted in the 1980s. A project to complete the route has been forming since, and begins, on one end, in Puyallup. It would stretch six miles to the Port of Tacoma.
“We’re still in the design phase (for the project),” said Craig Stone, program administrator for the Puget Sound Gateway Program. “At Meridian, there are two concepts that are being considered. One is to keep the ramps to and from the east.”
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We’re still in the design phase (for the project). At Meridian, there are two concepts that are being considered.
Craig Stone, program administrator for the Puget Sound Gateway Program
The second option is a full single-point urban interchange, which allows for on- and off-ramps on the east side of SR 167, and the west side as well.
“It mirrors what’s on the other side,” said Rob Andreotti, public works director for the city of Puyallup who is on the SR 167 project steering committee.
For Andreotti, and for the city of Puyallup, a full interchange is the way to go. The design would make it more efficient for commuters to reach Puyallup’s downtown business hub.
“We we want people to get off and on to SR 167 from our central businesses,” Andreotti said. “It gets folks to our downtown business core.”
Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce President Shelly Schlumpf agrees.
“I think that some of my biggest concerns would be the (car) dealerships on River Road if there wasn’t an interchange at Meridian,” said Schlumpf. “That’s an important part of our business community…that’s what the chamber is supposed to do — advocate for business.”
I think that some of my biggest concerns would be the (car) dealerships on River Road if there wasn’t an interchange at Merdian. That’s an important part of our business community… That’s what the Chamber is supposed to do — advocate for business.
Shelly Schlumpf, president and CEO of Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce
Andreotti and Schlumpf attended various project stakeholder meetings in the past years, along with representatives from neighboring cities, including Sumner and Fife. They brought up their concerns with the DOT about having an interchange.
“The city of Puyallup really wanted to look at that and DOT responded to us and said, ‘Okay, let’s look at it,’” Andreotti said. “They looked at ways to save money, and they did a great job.”
But when it comes to having a full interchange, the funds appear to fall short. Now, the DOT and representatives are seeing what can be done, including meeting with state Sen. Hans Zeiger.
“We’ve gone to our legislative body and they’re trying to get this onto the State Transportation Budget,” said Andreotti.
The budget for the Puget Sound Gateway Program comes in at a little under $2 billion, with the SR 167 project at about $1.65 billion, Andreotti said. Sources of the funds include gas taxes, and federal and local funds. The program recently submitted an application for a U.S. Department of Transportation FASTLANE Grant that will go toward both projects. The program’s second project is the completion of the state Route 509 corridor near the SeaTac International Airport.
Along with relieving traffic congestion on Interstate 5 and state Route 512, benefits of the SR 167 completion project include improving regional mobility and enhancing surface water quality, which is expected to improve stream habitat feeding into Commencement Bay.
Construction is expected to continue into 2031, but Andreotti is encouraging Puyallup businesses and citizens to become informed on the project now, as the design of the Meridian interchange could greatly affect the city.
It’ll be a long road to find out whether we’ll get there or not. We have to stay on it and monitor it as it goes on … I think if we get enough support on it, we can move mountains, but it will certainly take support from everybody in the city of Puyallup.
Rob Andreotti, public works director for City of Puyallup
“It’ll be a long road to find out whether we’ll get there or not,” Andreotti said. “We have to stay on it and monitor it as it goes on … I think if we get enough support on it, we can move mountains, but it will certainly take support from everybody in the city of Puyallup.”
WSDOT is hosting an open house about the Puget Sound Gateway Program 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday (April 18) at Fife High School, 5616 20th St. E. The public is encouraged to attend. For information, visit cityofpuyallup.org.