Q: What is that project on 27th Street West in University Place between Mildred and Bridgeport, and when will it be finished? – Kate D., Tacoma
A: It was not idle curiosity that drove Kate to write us here at Traffic Q&A headquarters.
She apparently drives that stretch of 27th Street quite a bit and has grown weary of the construction that, according to her, “regularly has the five-lane road down to one lane.”
Said Kate: “Getting to the post office (and nearby Starbucks) has become nearly impossible.”
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The tone of her missive suggests she missed her Starbucks run that day. We empathize. Lack of caffeine leaves us cranky as well.
So do unexplained road projects! So into the beat-up Honda we piled, and off to University Place we drove.
What we found on 27th Street was a labyrinth of orange cones and barrels, heavy construction equipment and backed-up traffic.
After a quick trip through the Starbucks drive-thru, we returned to headquarters and dialed up Jack Ecklund, UP’s director of engineering and capital projects.
Eckland gave us the skinny, and it wasn’t a latte. (We slay ourselves.)
Seems the work befuddling Kate is a $1.8 million project that began in September to add sidewalks and better lighting along 27th Street.
Crews with Tucci & Sons also will be building a signaled crosswalk across 27th near the Cheers Bar & Grill. Utility workers also replaced an aging water main as long as the street was torn up.
Safety is the goal, Ecklund said, especially for those folks who routinely walk along that stretch of 27th, which has the highest rate of pedestrian-related accidents in the city.
“We had a big need for pedestrian safety there,” he said.
Ecklund conceded the project has stymied traffic in that area, especially when crews put the signals at Mildred on a timer instead of the usual sensors while they rebuilt the curbs and gutters there.
“It added to everything and kind of slowed it down,” he said.
But, Ecklund said, things should get better all the time as the project steams toward completion in April.
Let us hope so. Kate needs her coffee.
Portland and 72nd update
We received a nice note from Dave C. last week regarding the merging trouble on East Portland Avenue just south of East 72nd Street in Tacoma.
It was Dave who originally brought the problem to our attention. We, in turn, brought it to the city’s attention.
“Couple months ago I wrote to you about the lane ending on Portland Avenue past 72nd. You wrote a story on it. I wanted to thank you for your help in getting it fixed. I see they recently installed a sign and painted arrows and lines (on the pavement). You must have known the right department to talk to.”
You’re welcome, Dave. Any time.