News

Gravel trucks may roll through Spring Valley

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

The Federal Way City Council might consider reopening a Spring Valley road to commercial truck traffic if it’s shown the road and a bridge could handle the weight of tractor-trailer combinations and their cargo.

Local gravel and fill company Lloyd Enterprises, which claims it’s suffering heavy business losses because of the closure, this month asked the council to reopen the South 373rd/South 376th Street corridor between Milton Road and Pacific Highway South so the company can use the road to transport its products south.

According to Lloyd officer Bob Couper, King County’s closure of the road to commercial traffic prior to city incorporation has proven a hardship to the company. To get to job sites south of a pit in Milton, “we have to go completely north to (State Route) 161 (Enchanted Parkway), go up to (South) 348th, then go to (Pacific Highway), then back south to 376th. It has made our company totally non-competitive in the south end,” Couper said.

The delay has added time to Lloyd’s transportation schedules, and time equals money, he said.

“Our company has just lost millions of dollars because of this,” Couper said. “It’s 40 minutes to an hour round-trip. If you have to take an hour longer, you can’t compete.”

It’s unclear why King County closed the road years ago, but the bridge was cited as a potential reason.

Lloyd has agreed to pay the cost of testing the structural integrity of the bridge to see how much weight it can handle.

City officials also want core samples of the road to see how solid the bed is underneath the pavement.

“It’s fairly new pavement, but it’s not just the surface of the road, it’s the roadbed itself,” said public works director Carey Roe said. Lloyd will pay for that, too.

Roe said he expects the information on the bridge and the road to be available in about a month.

Couper said traffic is bad enough on Enchanted Parkway –– where State Route 18 drivers are heading into the city and merging with traffic on Pacific or heading to Interstate 5 –– without Lloyd’s trucks, some as long as five or six cars, clogging up the streets. “We don’t need our trucks in that 348th area,” Couper said. “It’s not a friendly environment for the cars.”

Lloyd brought it up with the council “We appealed to their reason,” Couper said. “We have shown the (closed) route is not an unsafe route.”

Still, in addition to questions about the bridge and the road, city officials wanted to know about the sight distance along portions of the route and about how the wide-turning trucks would affect other drivers, particularly at South 373rd Street and Eighth Avenue South and at South 376th Street and Eighth.

Roe said officials also are concerned about the trucks’ ability to turn south from 373rd onto Pacific, since there’s no center turn lane.

“Trucks don’t accelerate very fast,” he said. “We need to have proper gaps so those trucks have time to get out. If not, we might need to install a signal.”

Opening South 373rd/South 376th for commercial vehicle traffic could prove controversial in that area of the city. Spring Valley Montessori School is nearby, as are several homes.

The city’s Land-Use and Transportation Committee intends to open the issue for public input, but after information on the bridge and the road samples come back.

“It’s not a huge amount of people, but there’s always someone who might not think it’s right,” said Councilman Jack Dovey, chairman of the committee. “That’s why we’re looking at the bridge first. It might be the bridge won’t hold, end of discussion.”

Roe agreed. “If the bridge can’t hold the weight, everything is moot,” he said.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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