Traffic study hits bump in road

Traffic congestion and safety are driving state and local officials to find a way to fix a local traffic nightmare known as the Triangle.

Thomas Noyes, a corridor planner with the state Department of Transportation, briefed Federal Way’s Land Use and Transportation Committee last week on the status of a study that is exploring road construction options to smooth out the congestion.

He and city traffic engineer Rick Perez asked committee members if they would recommend the City Council approve another $5,000 to $15,000 to expand the study.

Perez said the money originally allocated is enough to complete the study in its current scope, but it might not yield enough information for planners to make decisions as part of a regional transportation plan.

Councilman Eric Faison, chairman of the Land Use and Transportation Committee, said the committee was open to the idea.

“I suspect that would go through no problem, just because of the high-priority nature of the project,” he said.

Noyes presented two preliminary concepts for the Triangle that could help alleviate the traffic congestion and accidents there.

The first concept uses flyovers to connect drivers to frontage roads. The second focuses more intensely on connections at the South 356th Street intersection.

Even though the presentation was simply an update, several committee members said they preferred the first concept because it would provide more access to and from the freeway.

“Generally, the committee liked option A,” Faison said.

The Department of Transportation budgeted $300,000 to study how to fix congestion and safety problems at the Triangle, where Interstate 5, State Route 18 and State Route 161 converge in Federal Way.

The council in December 2000 approved $50,000 for the study, King County provided $20,000 and the city of Milton another $5,000.

Committee members seemed comfortable with spending more for an expanded study, though Perez said planners will go back to the county and Milton officials to learn what they’re able to contribute before requesting specific amounts.

In the meantime, planners are working on environmental assessments, costs and design issues for the Triangle. The project still is in preliminary stages, but planners want to get as much work done as possible to make it more attractive to voters, who will vote on a regional transportation plan this year.

Transportation planners expect to release a draft study for the Triangle improvement project in mid-May, which will be submitted to the Federal Way City Council.

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

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