News

Triangle project will celebrate $100 million milestone tomorrow

By PHILIP PALERMO

The Mirror

Local and state leaders will converge on Federal Way tomorrow to celebrate a milestone in the city’s “triangle” road construction project.

The “triangle” project, as it’s become known, focuses on traffic and safety work at the intersections of Interstate 5, Highway 18 and State Route 161.

Interim City Manager Derek Matheson said the idea for reducing congestion and accidents in that area has been around for several years.

“Federal Way’s challenge is we’re an urban city on a rural road system,” Matheson said. “We always hear concerns about congestion and travel time.”

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation Web site, changes to the area would include splitting the current clover-leaf design where Highway 18 and I-5 intersect.

“The existing loop ramps are substandard and two of the loop ramps are high-accident locations,” the Web site stated.

Current designs would seek to eliminate weaving, where vehicles seeking to get on a highway must weave between vehicles seeking to leave the highway.

“Federal Way residents deserve an interchange that is safer and less congested,” U.S. Senator Patty Murray said.

Murray, fellow U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and U.S. Representatives Adam Smith and Dave Reichert are among those expected at a celebration aimed to highlight the passing of $100 million in funding for the project.

The June 1 event will bring together leaders from the state, county and city level at the Federal Way Transit Center along South 316th Street.

“It’s an opportunity to share some information on the status of the design work, to thank some of the elected officials that got us over the $100 million mark,” Matheson said.

According to a press release, funding so far has come from several sources, including:

• $100 million from a 2005 9.5-cent gas tax package;

• $5.6 million from the 2006 SAFETEA-LU federal transportation bill;

• $3 million from the 2006 Transportation/Treasury/HUD budget bill;

• $3 million from the 2003 five-cent gas tax “Nickel” package; and

• $1 million from the 2005 Transportation/Treasury/HUD budget bill.

Despite passing the $100 million mark, Matheson said more funding is still needed.

Recent estimates, he added, place the costs of the total project at $160 to $200 million.

Matheson also said new information from WSDOT indicates rising construction and materials costs may push the cost above $200 million.

The city has submitted formal requests for federal funding, Matheson said,

Locally, the Regional Transportation Investment District will be meeting to map out their funding priorities.

“We’ll be very engaged in that RTID process,” Matheson said. “RTID will be a very competitive process, so we’ll have to work very hard to make the case that the triangle deserves to be on the list and funded at a high amount.”

The June 1 event begins at 3 p.m. at the Federal Way Transit Center at 3161 23rd Ave. S.

Staff writer Philip Palermo, 925-5565, ppalermo@fedwaymirror.com

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