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DOT begins new road project in Federal Way
By ERICA HALL
Traffic through the city could get a little hairy this summer as several construction projects move forward concurrently in Federal Way.
The state Department of Transportation launched another major road construction project in the city last week, with workers closing several lanes of State Route 161 overnight to remove vegetation in anticipation of summer construction.
The newest project will widen State Route 161 Enchanted Parkway to five lanes between Milton Way and Military Road South and four lanes between Military Road South and South 360th Street in Federal Way.
The $30 million project, paid for with nickel gas tax revenue, will add left turn lanes, sidewalks and a bike lane in the commercial area between Milton and Military Road and a raised median and wide shoulders for bikes and pedestrians in the residential area near Military Road.
The project is intended to improve safety, increase vehicle capacity and alleviate congestion. DOT engineers expect to finish construction in early 2007.
SR161 work this summer will include construction of a detention pond and building retaining and noise walls on either side of the roadway. Department of Transportation spokesman Greg Phipps said the project engineer anticipates off-peak hour and nighttime lane closures.
In addition, the entire road will be closed at South 360th and 28th Avenue South during one weekend this summer to allow DOT workers to replace a culvert under the road. Phipps said detour routes will be well-marked.
The SR161 project will join phase 2 of the Pacific Highway South project in the southern part of the city, from South 324th Street to South 340th Street, construction of the South 317th Street access ramps from Interstate 5 into the city center, and a project to add high-occupancy vehicle lanes from South 320th Street to the Pierce County line.
Later this summer, construction is expected to begin on a project to widen the intersection at South 336th Street and First Way South, adding a right-turn lane, extending existing left-turn lanes and modifying the traffic signal.
All of the projects involve lane closures and slow downs, but many are planned during off-peak hours or overnight.
Still, the HOV lane project on I-5 from South 320th to the Pierce County line could cause major delays when several lanes are closed for an entire weekend later this month to allow new pavement to set. Work crews have been grinding out the ridges that create the notoriously bumpy ride on southbound I-5 before the Pierce County line, but where panels of pavement are too cracked to be ground, crews will have to replace the whole slab.
Mayor Dean McColgan acknowledged the necessity of traffic improvements, despite the delays associated with them. Unfortunately, in order to fix the problems, you have to have construction, he said, adding the city is meeting regularly with the Chamber of Commerce to keep members updated on construction and is providing information on its Web site and TV program for the public.
Phipps said it will be important for drivers to be aware of where there will be construction this summer and to plan alternate routes. We want people to plan ahead and know its going to be crowded in advance, he said. If they know, they have a chance to prepare and plan ahead.
Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org