Earlier this year, the city of Lakewood found itself in the unusual position of having $2 million and nothing to spend it on.
The city got the money from the Legislature last year to improve pedestrian safety around railroad tracks that cut through the city. By next year, high-speed passenger trains are expected to run through Lakewood when the state Department of Transportation’s Point Defiance Bypass project is complete.
The trains can reach speeds up to 79 miles per hour.
City officials wanted build a fence parallel to a section of track that runs from the Lakewood Sounder train station near St. Clare Hospital south to Berkeley Avenue in Tillicum.
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But before work began, city officials learned Sound Transit planned to build a fence along the same stretch as part of its Point Defiance Bypass rail improvements. The fence is expected to go up in the next couple of weeks, according to a Sound Transit spokeswoman.
That left Lakewood with $2 million burning a hole in its pocket.
We know it’s doable, it’s just we need to get going as soon as possible.
Don Wickstrom, Lakewood Public Works Director
The city is limited in how the money can be spent. It can be used only for improving pedestrian safety near the railroad, Public Works Director Don Wickstrom told the City Council at its July 11 study session
City and state officials met in May and agreed that adding sidewalks and bike lanes to streets that parallel the railroad would be a good use of the money, Wickstrom said.
They hope pedestrians will use the new sidewalks instead of the railroad right of way and tracks.
Now the city is on a fast track to add the improvements to a 1.5-mile stretch of road before June 30, 2017, the deadline set by the state.
The sidewalks would be built on both sides of a short stretch of 111th Street starting at its intersection with Kendrick Street. They would continue where 111th Street turns into Lakeview Avenue Southwest until the intersection with 108th Street.
Then a sidewalk and bike lane would run only on the west side of Lakeview Avenue from 108th Street to Clover Park Technical College.
The City Council will be asked to approve a right of way purchase at its July 18 meeting. If that’s done, Wickstrom said, work should begin before next spring following a strict timeline.
“We know it’s doable,” he said, “it’s just we need to get going as soon as possible.”