South entry to Federal Way is getting wider

The Mirror

About two years from now, one of the main roads into Federal Way from the south should be a lot wider.

The state Department of Transportation, starting this spring, plans to widen two-lane State Route 161 –– Enchanted Parkway, as it’s called in Federal Way –– to five lanes from Milton to South 360th Street. The $29.5 million project is scheduled to be complete in early 2007.

A two-way left-turn lane between Military Road and Milton Way and a raised median north of Military will make the highway safer and easier to navigate during peak traffic hours, according to DOT officials.

They noted the area surrounding SR-161/Enchanted Parkway has grown from “semi-rural” to suburban, putting increased traffic on the existing two lanes, especially during morning and evening commutes.

A wider highway with turn lanes at “key intersections” will help offset traffic congestion, officials said.

They said safety for non-motorists should improve, too. Sidewalks and a bicycle lane will be added in the commercial area from Military Road to Milton Way.

Closer to Federal Way, improvements in the residential area north of Military Road will include an eight-foot-wide raised median in the highway and eight-foot shoulders for bike riders and pedestrians.

The state has bought land needed for the widening and has awarded the construction contract to Tri-State Construction Inc.

A combination of state and federal funding will pay for the project. Most of the money –– $25.1 million –– is coming from the state’s “nickel” gas tax approved by the Legislature.

The finished project will connect with an existing five-lane (including left-turn lane) roadway that already runs from South 360th into Federal Way.

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