Christmas could be coming early for Puyallup commuters.
Shaw Road is opening this month after an eight-month closure for construction meant to ease traffic congestion.
“The key functionality in all of this is adding a center turn lane so people can make left turns,” City Manager Kevin Yamamoto said Friday.
City officials say the road will be open by the end of December but are aiming for early next week, in time for Christmas. No official date has been set.
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In addition to expanding the two-lane road to three lanes, a shared-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists was built along the entire length of the .8-mile project, from Cherokee Boulevard to Manorwood Drive.
The shared-use trail includes benches, dog-waste stations, bike racks and trash cans. New fences were installed between residences and the road. Medians and vegetation were placed along the center lanes.
Project manager Ted Hill said the work was finished on time and under budget. The project cost $7.2 million to build.
“People are very excited about getting this road wrapped up,” Hill said. “It’s been closed for a while and people just want to use it again. I think that’ll take the pressure off (South) Meridian and (state Route) 161.”
About 16,000 vehicles travel Shaw Road per day. Before the project was completed, pedestrians had trouble walking along the road safely, and commuters were often caught behind vehicles attempting to make left-hand turns.
“That’s always been an issue — backing up, the queuing lanes of traffic,” Hill said. “The commuters going south should get the benefit of the residents getting out of the way to make their lefts.”
Keith and Janet Fabling know just how congested the traffic could get on Shaw Road. As leaders in the Manorwood Homeowners Association, they say the expanded road is going to make a big difference for homeowners.
“It’s certainly during the rush hour going to make it easier for homeowners to get in and out of the neighborhoods because with cars constantly streaming, not everybody lets you in, and the backup gets horrendous in the amount of time it takes, so I think it’s going to make a difference that way,” Janet Fabling said.
She added that the shared use path is going to be a nice addition with the joggers and dog walkers in the area.
“It’s maintaining our property values. This really does make Manorwood a lot more desirable in terms of a place to live in Puyallup,” Keith Fabling said.
The next phase of the project is smaller in scale and will expand the three lanes from Manorwood Drive to 39th Avenue Southeast, which turns into Pierce County property.
The final step, which the city hopes to start in the next five years, would expand Shaw Road north into the Puyallup valley.
“Right now we’re projecting that at a $40 million project to build from 23rd (Avenue Southeast) to 12th (Avenue Southeast),” Hill said.