Next up: Pacific Highway improvements

The city’s Department of Public Works streets division has entered Phase II of a Pacific Highway South road improvement project that is expected to make driving easier for everyone.

Phase II will widen the highway to include high-occupancy vehicle lanes from South 312th Street to South 324th Street to accommodate public transportation through the growing congestion in Federal Way’s downtown core.

The construction is scheduled to begin in 2004, but city attorney Bob Sterbank told the City Council on Feb. 19 that now is the time to start acquiring property — and filing for eminent domain for property owners who don’t vacate strips of property along Pacific Highway South.

City officials are acquiring right-of-way — strips of land on either side of the highway from South 324th Street to South 340th Street to accommodate the expansion.

As the project moves forward, street crews will be adding the high-occupancy vehicle lanes as well as gutters, sidewalks and planter strips. They also will add lighting and bury utility lines and cables.

Phase I of the project included design and right-of-way acquisition from South 324th Street to South 340th Street. Phase I construction is expected to begin in 2003.

Here’s some more roadwork for Federal Way:

• South 320th Street. Traffic volume capacity and safety improvements are underway along 23rd Avenue South between South 320th Street and South 316th Street and along South 320th Street near SeaTac Mall.

Traffic has been crawling through slowdowns and lane closures, but the improvements are expected to relieve congestion through the area, which is one of the entrances into downtown Federal Way from Interstate 5.

During the construction project, South 320th will be widened for the addition of left-turn lanes in either direction.

Traffic along 23rd will flow more smoothly when the road is widened from three lanes to five, officials said. The project also includes raised sidewalks and bikeways on both sides of the street, street furniture at the intersections, landscape restoration and lighting and irrigation.

• South 276th Street park and ride. The Puget Sound Regional Council in January approved the Pacific Highway South park and ride lot at South 276th Street for possible funding.

In addition to a 700-car lot, the project includes the installation of a signal at the intersection.

• Signals. King County Executive Ron Sims announced late last month that eight cities will share $415,000 in county grant funds to synchronize traffic signals.

Ten Federal Way signals will be synchronized — along South 320th Street from Pacific Highway South to Peasley Canyon Road — as part of the project.

Additional information on road work is available on the city’s Web site at Click on the public projects link under the quick index.

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and

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