The state Legislature has invested in funding for the design and engineering of a full single-point urban interchange at state Route 167 on Meridian in Puyallup.
The project is part of the Department of Transportation (WSDOT)’s Puget Sound Gateway Program, which is comprised of two projects — extending state Route 509 to ease traffic near Tukwila and extending SR 167 from Puyallup to Tacoma.
The project means a lot to Puyallup representatives, who say that a full interchange could bring more business and commuters into Puyallup.
“That is the gateway to Puyallup. That is where people come into the city and it is such a central point for commerce,” state Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, said. “I think that if our community is going to remain supportive of the 167 completion project, we’ve got to have a full interchange (at Meridian).”
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Last year, Puyallup representatives were unsure the full interchange would be a possibility due to lack of funding, and started meeting with state officials. In January, Puyallup Deputy Mayor Tom Swanson, Puyallup City Council member Julie Door and other city officials met with Zeiger and Rep. Melanie Stambaugh, R-Puyallup, to look at the project.
When the supplemental transportation budget was released at the end of February, there were changes in language to support funding of the full interchange.
According to the budget, any savings after the funding gap on the base project is closed as part of the proposal to expedite the project, that these cost savings shall go toward construction of a full single-point urban interchange at the junction of state Route 161 (Meridian Avenue).”
In other words, savings from the project would be allocated toward creation of a full Meridian Avenue interchange — a small victory for Puyallup.
“It makes (a full interchange) a whole lot more likely,” Councilmember Tom Swanson said. “It definitely moves it up the list.”
“I believe that it is more likely to happen,” Zeiger added. “There’s a lot of interest in moving the project schedule forward… I believe we’ll see significant savings.”
But Swanson and Zeiger are quick to point out that the work to secure funding is far from over. Puyallup representatives will have to continue to fight for funding in next year’s budget to get more assurance about the construction of a full interchange.
The Puget Sound Gateway Program is budgeted for about $2 billion, with $130 million in local contributions, $111 million in federal grants, $1.5 billion in Connecting Washington funds and $180 million in toll revenue. Construction is expected to start in 2019 with an estimated completion date of 2030. For more information, visit wsdot.wa.gov.