Letters to the Editor

Traffic relief for all

In the Dec. 27 edition of the Mirror, a news headline read “15-month study is for another way into downtown Federal Way.” If this is the perception as to why an I-5 off ramp is needed at South 312th, then we are truly off to a bad start. I would suggest that the headline should read “15-month study is for traffic relief for all Federal Way and Northeast Tacoma residents and businesses.”

What is always often overlooked is that the residents of Federal Way, not the “downtown,” have needed alternative routes to the congestion for years. The majority of Federal Way’s residents live one to five miles to the west, south and north of the downtown core. Additionally, Northeast Tacoma’s population explosion over the last 15 years has severely burdened all Federal Way roads leading to the freeway.

In a related article (Dec. 27, “Specialists and public part of freeway study”), the Mirror reports city engineer Maryanne Zukowski will be forming teams of “stakeholders,” i.e., those most impacted by the South 312th off-ramp. The stakeholders listed include various public agencies, businesses and retirement homes that are near I-5. What is blatantly absent is any representation from the vast majority of residents who commute to jobs outside of Federal Way and reside outside of the downtown core. These are in fact the primary users of the roads in Federal Way and the primary contributors to the congestion.

I sincerely hope this team of “specialists” will look to opening up more viable east-west routes and consider the contribution of Northeast Tacoma to our traffic problems. My fear is that the specialists’ default assumption will be that this population group will eventually migrate to bus services –– perhaps make use of the dismal park-and-ride lot at South 344th and 21st Avenue South. Please do not make that mistake in judgment. We need solutions that allow drivers to traverse town and have access to the freeway.

Larry Paterson

Federal Way

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