Roadwork near UW Tacoma to align area streets

Roadwork to connect two downtown Tacoma streets near University of Washington Tacoma’s campus could begin soon.

The $1.8 million project changes the alignments of Jefferson Avenue, Broadway and South 17th Street to make a four-way intersection intended to increase bicyclist and pedestrian safety. Crews also will add a bike lane, crosswalks, expanded sidewalks, improved street lights and back-in parking.

The project, which also will include some underground utility improvements, was initially slated to begin over the summer. The revelation that the city was recruiting a four-star hotel to a parcel nearby put the project on pause.

The city and developer continue to negotiate the development agreement for the two-tower hotel and condo project next to the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center.

Public Works Director Kurtis Kingsolver said the city consulted with its utility departments to see if work needed to be done at the same time as the road realignment, which can save money overall.

Utility departments decided extra work was needed in that area to accommodate the potential future project. Designing the storm water and water line improvements delayed the start of the road realignment, Kingsolver said.

University of Washington Tacoma is contributing $1.1 million for the roadwork. In addition, the city’s surface water utility will pay nearly $400,000 for underground upgrades, and the water utility will pay $200,000 for similar work. The city’s Public Works Department is adding $100,000 as a contingency.

Construction on parts of the project could begin in a few weeks before halting just before Thanksgiving, he said.

“We want to make sure we are not under construction during the holiday season,” Kingsolver said.

Crews will start again in early January provided the weather allows, he said. Construction is expected to continue into March.