Federal Way pursues grant money for traffic projects

This July 2011 photo shows the intersection of South 348th Street and 1st Avenue South in Federal Way. At the time, the intersection awaited a final asphalt overlay and striping.  - Mirror file photo
This July 2011 photo shows the intersection of South 348th Street and 1st Avenue South in Federal Way. At the time, the intersection awaited a final asphalt overlay and striping.
— image credit: Mirror file photo

Each year, Federal Way updates its Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), the outline of capital projects related to the city's roads and thoroughfares.

The annual update is a requirement for grant eligibility. This year, a number of upcoming projects were included in the TIP. Many of the projects will be funded through both state and federal grant money.

The first new project: The Citywide City Safety project, which is aimed at improving safety at intersections with checkered pasts. It will be funded by a state grant, said Rick Perez, senior traffic engineer for the city.

"We were successful in achieving this grant," Perez told the Federal Way City Council on July 3. "This provides some traffic signal, signing and striping modifications at high accident intersections around the city."

Intersections and school zones

Two intersections where this grant will be applied are 320th Street from Highway 99 to Interstate 5, and Highway 99 from 320th to 340th streets, Perez noted.

Two projects involving school zones were added to the TIP, and are contingent upon a "Safe Routes to School" grant, Perez said. These two projects would include 13th Avenue SW, from 314th to 316th streets near Lakota Middle School, and also 16th Avenue SW, from SW 304th to SW 306th streets, in front of Adelaide Elementary.

The project near Lakota would involve the construction of a sidewalk near the school. The project at Adelaide also includes the construction of a sidewalk near the school.

For these school projects, Perez said the city is cautiously optimistic about receiving the needed grant funding.

"My sense is that the stronger one is the Lakota project," Perez said. "It's a little cheaper, and has a more significant impact. Adelaide, it's kind of maybe."

One other Safe Routes to School grant project the city added to the TIP involves 25th Drive South at Star Lake Road.

"We are aiming to get that done. However, there's a slight chance the project would not be closed out by the end of the year, therefore, if it goes into next year, we need to include it in the TIP for that year," Perez said. "We're essentially adding that project back in."

Pedestrians, bicycles and asphalt

The next set of projects would also be state grant funded, and would focus on pedestrian and bike safety. If the city receives the state grant funding, it plans on reworking South 288th Street from 19th Avenue South to I-5 to make it more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists — namely by adding a two-way left-turn lane on that stretch of road, and also a bike lane.

This would add two mid-block pedestrian crossings, Perez said.

The bike and pedestrian safety grant money is also being sought to improve 14th Avenue South, from South 308th to South 312th streets.

"(This) would be extending the sidewalks on 14th Avenue South north from 312th all the way to 308th, and actually eastward on 308th to Highway 99," Perez said. The plan would also construct a mini-roundabout at the intersection of South 308th Street and 14th Avenue South.

For these pedestrian and bicycle safety projects, Perez said the chance of securing grant funding is a little more up in the air.

"We really don't know. Basically the state changed the criteria significantly, given the amount of money that's available statewide. At the same time, I think our projects each have their compelling arguments in favor of them," he said.

Perez said the scoring criteria for grant applications seems to have expanded beyond what had been the norm previously. Trying to figure out how those "intangibles" will factor into the awarding of grant money is difficult for the city to predict.

One last project Perez touched on was an asphalt overlay project on South 320th Street between 11th Place South and I-5. While asphalt overlay is typically a city-funded project, this particular stretch is set to be funded by a federal grant, which requires that it also be included in the TIP.

If the grant funding comes through for the above projects, Perez indicated that they would begin in 2013 or 2014, depending on the project.

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