News

Grant spells relief for skewed intersection

A map showing the improvements for the South 356th Street/Pacific Highway South intersection in Federal Way. - Map courtesy of the city of Federal Way
A map showing the improvements for the South 356th Street/Pacific Highway South intersection in Federal Way.
— image credit: Map courtesy of the city of Federal Way

By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror

A recently acquired $4.35 million grant will allow the city to complete $8 million worth of construction at South 356th Street and Pacific Highway South.

The city has made straightening the northeast jaunt at this location a top transportation goal. The improvements are included in its six-year Transportation Improvement Plan, a wish list of the city’s most-needed traffic projects.

“The intersection is skewed, therefore, the city always wanted to realign that intersection,” street systems manager Marwan Salloum said.

Until now, the city did not have enough funds to complete the construction. It applied for the grant in August 2007, received notice of the award from the State Transportation Improvement Board in November 2007, and accepted the grant and approved the undertaking in mid-February.

The project will straighten the roadway so that drivers are not maneuvering the long northeast curve as they proceed through the intersection. It will also allow more vehicles to pass through the crossroads during busy times of the day and night.

“During our peak traffic times, it’s not putting as many people through as it should,” street systems project engineer John Mulkey said.

Sidewalks and a planter strips near the intersection will also be included, he said.

The city wished to begin the improvements this year and thus applied for a similar grant in 2006, Salloum said. But the grant application and approval process are competitive; the city did not score high enough, based on a point system, to earn the TIB funding for 2007.

“If you don’t score well, you don’t get the money,” Mulkey said. “They are not just going to award it willy-nilly to anybody.”

The city applied for the grant once again in 2007. This time it received the highest score in its category, Urban Corridor Program. The grant was the third largest awarded in the state. Shoreline received $6 million toward a project costing slightly more than $22.3 million, and Pierce County received $5 million toward a project totaling a little more than $10 million, according to the Transportation Improvement Board Web site, www.tib.wa.gov/default.asp.

Federal Way was able to score higher this time around, in part because the city had more private funds to contribute toward the project, Salloum said. Federal Way will contribute approximately $2.3 million in general and utility tax funds, he said. The remaining $1.4 million will come from money the city has collected from developers, to be used for traffic mitigations near South 356th Street.

“The reason we scored high is we have a lot of private money into the project,” Salloum said.

The construction is part of a larger four-phase project to widen South 356th Street to five lanes from State Route 161 to 21st Avenue Southwest, according to a city press release. The grant will be applied to the second phase of that larger project. Construction is slated to begin in March 2009 and finish five to six months later, Salloum said.

“It’s a typical intersection improvement project — it’s driven by the need,” Mulkey said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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Check it out:

To view maps of the South 356th Street project, visit http://www.cityoffederalway.com/Page.aspx?page=807.

To view a complete list of the city’s Transportation Improvement Plan projects, visit www.cityoffederalway.com/Page.aspx?page=543.

To view past and present street systems capital improvement projects, visit www.cityoffederalway.com/Page.aspx?page=622.

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