Gov. Jay Inslee joined federal, state and local officials Thursday to celebrate the first project to begin construction with Connecting Washington funding in the greater Seattle area.
At a groundbreaking ceremony under sunny skies near Renton City Hall, leaders marked the start of the Interstate 405/State Route 167 Interchange Direct Connector project. Scheduled to open to traffic in summer 2019, the project will build a new flyover ramp connecting the high occupancy toll lanes on SR 167 with the carpool lanes on I-405.
“This new, direct connection will make trips easier for commuters and provide traffic relief through this vital corridor,” Inslee said. “This is first project in King County to break ground with funding from the historic, bipartisan Connecting Washington transportation package that I signed into law last summer.”
Currently, commuters experience up to eight hours of congestion at the I-405/SR 167 interchange each day. Right now, drivers in the left carpool or HOT lane must merge across all lanes of traffic to exit. Then they must merge back across to continue their trip in the carpool or HOT lane. By eliminating the need for this weaving, the Direct Connector will improve carpool lane trips but will also smooth out traffic in the regular lanes.
“This project has been one of our top priorities and we’re pleased to be moving forward with construction,” said Roger Millar, secretary of transportation. “We’re grateful for the longstanding partnerships with communities up and down the I-405 corridor that have brought us to this point. The Direct Connector is an important next step in providing transportation choices in the face of congestion.”
Thursday’s groundbreaking included remarks by Gov. Inslee, Rep. Steve Bergquist, Renton City Council President Randy Corman, Transportation Secretary Millar. Photos of the event are available on the WSDOT Flickr site.
Construction work ahead
The Direct Connector is the first phase of major improvements between Renton and Bellevue, which also includes adding new highway capacity between the SR 167 interchange and downtown Bellevue.
Earlier this summer, WSDOT awarded a $115.9 million design-build contract to Guy F. Atkinson Construction of Renton to construct the project. As part of the project, contractor crews will also rebuild portions of local streets, relocate a noise wall in a neighboring community, and complete a new fish-passable culvert at Rolling Hills Creek.
Utility relocation is already underway. Motorists can expect to see additional construction activities start up in the coming months. The latest road closure information will be posted on WSDOT’s construction update website throughout the project.