Section of SR 509 named for Longshore activist Phil Lelli

Phil Lelli
Phil Lelli Courtesy

Phil Lelli was a Tacoma longshoreman, philanthropist and union activist.

Now he’s being commemorated with a section of highway.

The Washington State Transportation Commission has adopted a resolution recognizing Lelli by naming a section of state Route 509 in his honor.

In Resolution No. 728, signed May 18, the commission noted several of Lelli’s accomplishments including “playing a critical role … when the Port of Tacoma transitioned away from manual cargo unloading to the modern shipping container and crane system we see today;” and playing a similar role as he “traveled around the world to successfully attract and recruit more business to the Port of Tacoma.”

Add his multiple re-election victories as president of the International Longshore Warehouse Union local in Tacoma between 1966 and 1985; and his service as a Port of Tacoma commissioner; and his advocacy for “greater labor force efficiency and technical innovation on the docks;” and his service to Hospitality Kitchen and food banks in the South Sound.

Therefore, the commission said that it would name “State Route 509 in Pierce County between the junction with Pacific Avenue and Taylor Way in the city of Tacoma as the Philip Martin Lelli Memorial Highway.”

Lelli died in 2004 at age 74.

The commission has directed the Department of Transportation to make some new signs to reflect the decision.

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535