On the corner of 136th (Valentine) Avenue and 16th street in Sumner, there’s a clear line where dark asphalt meets lighter concrete.
This line also indicates where two cities meet — Sumner with concrete, Pacific with asphalt — and is the result of an estimated $20 million project to develop a 1.5-mile long piece of road connecting the cities. After 10 years of construction, the road is finished.
Falling in part within Sumner city limits in the city’s northern industrial park, the corridor begins at 24th Street East in Sumner and lies along 136th Avenue East, which turns into Valentine Avenue SE. Construction stopped at County Line Road in Pacific.
What was once a two-lane road with ditches on either end has expanded to three lanes, not including bike lanes and sidewalks on either side. Trees sprout from the planter strip between the street and the sidewalk.
“The north Sumner area is really manufacturing as an industrial area,” said Jason Van Gilder, an engineer for Sumner and the lead for the project. “There were narrow streets with big semis on them. With widened roadways, the turning radius for big trucks is better. We’re glad to see (the trucks). They’re a sign of businesses and jobs.”
The north Sumner area is really manufacturing as an industrial area. There were narrow streets with big semis on them. With widened roadways, the turning radius for big trucks is better.
Jason Van Gilder, engineer and project lead
The roads are often used by large vehicles, but also residents on their way to work in the industrial area, which supports 13,000 jobs, according to Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow.
“(The project) helped a lot with traffic coming off (state Route) 167,” said Van Gilder. “It makes people feel safer.”
Originally a project for Pacific, Sumner became involved as part of the street was within Sumner city limits. Funding began in 2006, with help over the years from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB), the Department of Ecology and the Public Works Trust Fund.
The project had a bumpy road over the years, according to officials from both cities. Around four years ago, after difficulties in communication between the partner cities, the project almost went under.
This is a project where cities learn to work together.
Dave Enslow, mayor of Sumner
“I talked to Mayor Enslow and he felt with the way things were going, they were going to cut their losses,” said Pacific council member Clint Steiger.
But after changes in leadership and continued communication, the cities were able to save the project and see it through to its completion.
“We came to a realization that it was better to get things done,” Enslow said. “This is a project where cities learn to work together.”
On Oct. 20, a ribbon-cutting ceremony with city officials from both Sumner and Pacific brought the project to a close. Now, city officials are looking forward to see how the area grows in the future.
“I never drive on this road and don’t feel proud of what I see,” Enslow said.