Complete the project and extend Highway 509 to Interstate 5 | Andrea Keikkala
By ANDREA KEIKKALA
Tukwila Reporter Columnist
February 29, 2012 · 6:29 PM
Kent is the sixth largest city in Washington with a population of 118,200. A culturally rich destination, Kent features captivating neighborhoods, award-winning parks, exceptional school districts and nationally accredited police and fire departments. In recent years, Kent has experienced impressive economic growth, and is nationally known as a prime location for manufacturing. Recently, the Kent Chamber of Commerce urged the Legislators of Washington state to support the competition of I-5/state Route 509 project. Completion of this project will be keeping a 20-year promise to our area for transportation projects.
The Kent Chamber of Commerce is part of the South Sound Chambers of Commerce Legislative Coalition (SSCCLC). The SSCCLC has proposed a transportation package to finish the South Sound Corridor. The South Sound Corridor is a set of projects that when complete and taken together assure that goods and services (those produced regionally, those of the U.S. Southwestern and Midwestern economic areas, and those of our customers and partners in the Far East) flow through the region seamlessly and efficiently. Those projects include: SR-167 from Renton to the Port of Tacoma, including the interchange with Interstate 405, Completion of the I-5/SR-18/SR-161 projects (Federal Way triangle), SR-704 from I-5 to SR-7 (Cross Base Highway), extending and expanding high demand feeder roads, approaches and major surface streets like SR-516 (Kent-Kangley Road at the east end of Covington) and SR-164 (Auburn-Enumclaw Road) and the SR-167 from Renton to the Port of Tacoma, including the interchange with I-405. We strongly encourage the Legislators from South King and east Pierce Counties to, as a block, support the South Sound Corridor as a whole
The I-5/SR-509 project does more for I-5 capacity, freight mobility, job creation, safety, and environmental enhancement than any other large-corridor project in the state. There will be 17,000 new jobs; 5 million plus square feet of office, retail and commercial space; nearly $700 million in new constructions, nearly $34 million in new state/local revenues over 20 years according to studies done by the Port of Seattle, City of SeaTac and City of Des Moines.
It will provide a direct connection into Green River Valley, the West Coast’s 2nd largest warehouse distribution hub and the 4th largest in the country that houses approximately 1/8th of the gross domestic product in Washington State budget. With the completion of the I-5/SR-509 project there is an estimated 11-minute time savings for truckers and motorist on trips in and around the seaport and Green River Valley, plus an estimated 15 percent reduction in truck traffic on I-5. This project improves safety by reducing the number of trucks climbing slowly up I-5/Southcenter Hill and provides for shorter traveling distance for many trips, which will reduce, the number of vehicles and congestion on regional routes.
The I-5/SR-509 project provides critical new capacity and helps assure funding for a new South Access Road into Sea-Tac International Airport. It allows for 18.5 new lane miles on I-5 from SeaTac to Federal Way and a direct connection from the airport area to the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
The state of Washington has previously invested $86 million in this project for right-of-way, project design, environmental “Record of Decision” in hand and detailed tolling studies. The I-5/SR-509 project is very conservatively estimated to raise $100 million in tolls, and the project has been phased and revised to bring the cost to $900 million. The benefit cost ratio of 5 to 1 is one of the best returns on investments for large-corridor projects.
An investment of $800 million will complete this corridor that has been planned and on the books for 20 years. It is time to keep the promise of the I-5/SR-509 project and finish what we started.Contact Tukwila Reporter Columnist Andrea Keikkala at email@example.com or (253) 854-1770 ext. 140.