Puyallup Herald

Relief is coming for Sumner commuters. Next step: construction on Traffic Avenue

Take a deep breath, Sumner commuters.

Relief is still coming for drivers often stuck on the bottleneck that is Traffic Avenue over state Route 410.

After years of planning, Sumner officials announced this month that the city has collected the money needed to fully fund the $17.5 million project.

“Most people know that Traffic Avenue is the single worst bottleneck in the city, and now relief is on its way!” City Councilman Patrick Reed wrote in a Facebook post Nov. 18.

The project will involve building an overpass east of the current overpass on state Route 410 and installing new signals.

The $17.5 million project will construct a new SR 410 overpass east of the current overpass on Traffic Avenue in Sumner and install new traffic signals. City of Sumner Courtesy

“This is a very special project for two reasons,” Mayor Bill Pugh said.

“First, you have a city raising funds for a WSDOT (state Department of Transportation) project, which is unusual. Second and more importantly, you have many different partners coming to the table to make it happen in a short amount of time.

“That is extraordinary, and we’re honored by the support.”

The city anticipates seeking bids for the construction in the spring, with the project taking about two years to complete.

“We’re going as fast as we can, but it is a project over a busy freeway and alongside a busy railroad — just small degree of difficulty there!” Sumner communications director Carmen Palmer wrote in an email.

Traffic Avenue is a primary route to the Port of Tacoma from Sumner’s industrial park, which is home to Amazon, Costco and auto repair company Cummins Sales and Service.

Rush hour congestion on the bottleneck became so bad that city leaders started the hashtag #SumTraffic in 2016 for drivers to recount their experiences and frustrations.

It’s still being used today by commuters and city officials. The latest tweet was Nov. 19.

“So sick of the traffic in #sumner #sumtraffic,” one commuter tweeted. “Time to move fast to get this fixed.”

The state Transportation Improvement Board, the Puget Sound Regional Council, Sound Transit, the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, Knutson Farms, the Port of Tacoma and the state are funding partners for the project.

The city contributed $90,000 to the project, not including “in-kind costs” such as writing and tracking grants and project management for design and construction.

The city also credits legislators from the 25th and 31st legislative districts — Reps. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn; Morgan Irwin, R-Enumclaw; Melanie Stambaugh, R-Puyallup; Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup; and Sens. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn; and Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup — for making the project happen.

“We couldn’t have done this without them,” Palmer said.