$100 million Triangle project shoud ease congestion, save lives, officials say


The Mirror

One by one, representatives at the city, county, state and federal level spoke about efforts to relieve traffic congestion and improve road safety at Federal Way’s so-called “triangle” interchange.

Mayor Mike Park hosted the event Thursday at the Federal Way Transit Center, where several elected officials gathered to commemorate passing the $100 million funding level for the triangle project at the intersection of State Route 18, State Route 161 and Interstate 5.

State Senator Tracey Eide recalled when the project received $100 million in state funding from the 9.5-cent gas tax increase.

“I had never been so proud to serve Federal Way,” she said. “With all of us working together, we’re going to get this project done.”

The project would eliminate the cloverleaf interchange where SR-18 and I-5 meet. Currently, the interchange forces motorists to weave amongst each other to both exit and enter the freeway.

According to information from the Washington State Department of Transportation, 11 high accident locations have been identified within the project area. Both I-5 and SR 161 are also identified as high accident corridors.

State Representative Mark Miloscia said the triangle project is about more than easing traffic congestion, it should also save lives.

“Ultimately this is what we’re doing,” he said.

Miloscia also said he personally steers clear of the area, likening the mix of converging vehicles to bumper cars.

“I avoid it,” he said. “I go down to Weyerhaeuser Way to get to (SR) 18. “

King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer said the triangle project would benefit the entire region, not just Federal Way residents.

“This is truly a regional project with regional benefits,” he said.

He added improving the interchange would have a positive effect on neighboring cities including Tacoma, Auburn and Puyallup.

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell fought through traffic and arrived just in time to share her comments about the project.

South King County, she said, plays a key role in the transportation services of the region.

The triangle project, she said, is not just important to commuters, but also to local businesses and the military.

Truck drivers who can’t move their products and motorists who can’t make it to work put a drain on the overall economy, she said.

“Traveling these roads is more expensive than it needs to be,” Cantwell said after the comments portion of the program concluded.

Interim City Manager Derek Matheson said he was pleased by the turnout of elected officials and community members at the event.

There is a commitment, he said, to fixing the triangle and other transportation issues in the city.

According to WSDOT’s timeline, construction of the triangle project could be complete by 2012 if the project is fully funded. An environmental review is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

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