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New lane cutting climb time on SR-18

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

The State Route 18 hill into Federal Way just got safer –– and shorter, so to speak.

Shortly before 11 a.m. Wednesday, the state Department of Transportation opened the new slow-vehicles lane on the westbound, uphill portion of the highway between Auburn and Federal Way. Heavy trucks, in particular, can now labor the two miles without holding up traffic.

When only two lanes were available, slow vehicles clogged one of them. The new third lane could improve safety, too, in the affected area between State Route 167 in Auburn and Weyerhaeuser Way in Federal Way. In that stretch of SR-18 between 1999 and 2005, more than 250 collisions were reported, most of them involving vehicles trying to pass slow-moving trucks, according to DOT.

The “truck climbing” lane, as DOT calls it, is part of $18.5 million in improvements to the highway. The state and contractor Tri-State Construction also installed new highway lights, screens between the east and westbound lanes to shield motorists’ eyes from the glare of headlights on oncoming vehicles, and a traffic signal at the westbound exit to Weyerhaeuser Way. The latter upgrade is intended to keep traffic from backing up onto SR-18, officials said.

Some minor work on the highway remained after the new lane opened Wednesday, but the project is otherwise complete, a DOT spokesman said.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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