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Pacific Highway, S. 348th traffic jams will continue through the summer

Motorists were backed up from Pacific Highway South to 1st Avenue South midday Tuesday as a crew activated a traffic light. The project is due for completion in September.  - Fumiko Yarita/staff photo
Motorists were backed up from Pacific Highway South to 1st Avenue South midday Tuesday as a crew activated a traffic light. The project is due for completion in September.
— image credit: Fumiko Yarita/staff photo

City’s two largest road projects slated for completion in September

The end is in sight for two of the city’s largest road construction projects. But officials warn that motorists still need to remain patient during the projects’ most trying times.

Construction on projects at South 348th Street, near 9th Avenue South, and Pacific Highway South, near South Dash Point Road, are expected to wrap up in September. But crews at both sites will be working simultaneously, possibly even at night on one project, to finish the road improvements. The work is expected to cause some traffic delays.

Both projects are set to widen a main arterial from five lanes to seven lanes, extend an existing HOV lane and add curbs, gutters, sidewalks, a landscaped median, left turn lanes and U-turn capabilities at intersections. Beginning July 28, motorists should expect delays where construction is occurring.

Work on the South 328th project began in March and is expected to be mostly complete and servicing motorists by early September, city of Federal Way street systems project engineer John Mulkey said. The project is on schedule and meeting budget requirements, he said. As construction begins to wrap up, motorists are asked to find alternative routes around the roadwork and to be patient as the crews try to keep traffic moving.

“We’ve been trying to minimize the impact to traffic from day one,” Mulkey said.

But at times, such was the case Tuesday afternoon, the work has caused substantial delays. Motorists traveling eastbound on South 348th Street were backed up from Pacific Highway to 1st Avenue South Tuesday while a crew activated a traffic light.

Drivers were funneled into a single lane as they inched their way toward Pacific Highway.

Lane closures will likely continue into August and beginning July 28, the 10th Avenue entrance to the Metro Park and Ride will be closed for 30 days, Mulkey said. The 9th Avenue entrance will remain open.

“We know people are frustrated and we are doing our best to keep people moving,” Mulkey said. “When it’s over it will be a much-improved roadway.”

Motorists traveling on Pacific Highway South, between South 288th Street and South Dash Point Road since phase three of the five-phase project began in May 2007 have experienced lane shifts, paving and traffic light installation, among other things.

The project is on budget and expected to be completed in early to mid September, Federal Way street systems project engineer Brian Roberts said. “The next two weeks are probably going to be the most difficult traffic-wise for folks,” he said.

During this time crews will be preparing for and paving overlays on the highway. Traffic will be shifted and noise cannot be avoided, Roberts said.

The city hopes to pave at night, using noise reducing equipment, he said. If night paving is possible, rubber-lined truck beds and back up warning signals that respond to exterior noise levels will be used, Roberts said. These things will not eliminate all sound.

“We would just ask that for the next two weeks, understand it will be difficult for both motorists and residents along this corridor,” Roberts said.

Once paving is completed, motorists can expect smooth sailing and little lane closures, he said.

Contact Jacinda Howard at: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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Read more about these and other Federal Way construction projects by visiting the Web page, http://www.cityoffederalway.com/Page.aspx?view=301.

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