Final phase of Pacific Highway construction nears finish line | Completion set for December 2011

Construction on Pacific Highway South affects access to businesses, including Al Holz Auto Care, as seen in the background. Construction is expected to be finished by December 2011. - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
Construction on Pacific Highway South affects access to businesses, including Al Holz Auto Care, as seen in the background. Construction is expected to be finished by December 2011.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

After nearly 10 years, major construction on Pacific Highway South in Federal Way is almost done.

The fourth and final phase of the project is under way with completion slated for December. Until then, motorists should continue to expect congestion and lane closures.

Construction on this phase began in July 2010, focusing on the stretch between South 312th Street and Dash Point Road. This segment of road averages about 38,000 vehicles per day, said Brian Roberts, street systems project engineer.

Similar to the first three phases of construction, improvements will include new pavement overlay and widening of the road from five lanes to seven lanes. There will be two general purpose lanes and one HOV lane in each direction, along with provisions for left turns and U-turns at intersections, according to the city.

When completed, this segment will reduce congestion while improving pedestrian access. The finished project will also feature uninterrupted sidewalks and landscaped medians.

“If you look to the south or the north, you’ll really see what the finished project will look like,” Roberts said of the project’s fourth phase.

The construction contract was awarded to J.R. Hayes and Sons Inc. last summer. The project is funded by the city; two federal Transportation Equity Act grants; a Transportation Improvement Board grant; and a Regional Mobility grant.

Progress has been delayed for a few weeks, Roberts said. Construction crews have encountered difficulty in moving utility vaults, which store public utility equipment underground for power and communications companies such as Puget Sound Energy and Qwest.

This month, crews are also pouring concrete for sidewalks and curbing.

Business access on Pacific Highway

Despite signs that alert motorists to business entrances, the construction has frustrated some business owners along Pacific Highway.

“Nobody thinks we’re open,” said Al Holz, who owns an auto shop by the same name at the corner of South 304th Street. “Nobody wants to drive through this mess.”

Standing in an empty garage on a rainy day last week, he watched as vehicles crawled by on Pacific Highway while crews manned an excavator across the street. Holz estimates this phase of construction has led to a 30 percent drop in business. His business was already hurting because of the recession, he said, and the construction makes it worse. A silver lining is that after 30 years in business, Holz said he owns the shop outright and only pays overhead costs.

“You never know what the heck is going to happen,” he said, pointing to fellow businesses down the street. “We’re all hurting.”

Roberts said he and the city communicate regularly with affected business owners. Work crews have adorned barrels with yellow plastic to emphasize business access, he said, and property entrances remain accessible even if partially blocked due to construction.

“We try to minimize surprises,” he said.

Learn more

For details related to Pacific Highway South construction, click here. For more information on the construction project, contact Brian Roberts at (253) 835-2723 or



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