Strander Blvd. funding key to finishing Tukwila Sounder Station access

One key City of Tukwila project that isn’t funded is the extension eastward of Strander Boulevard, which, when done, will improve traffic flow in and out of the Tukwila Sounder Station.

The City of Renton completed two lanes of a five-lane extension of Southwest 27th Street/Strander Boulevard

One key City of Tukwila project that isn’t funded is the extension eastward of Strander Boulevard, which, when done, will improve traffic flow in and out of the Tukwila Sounder Station.

Strander Boulevard dead ends on the east side of West Valley Highway at the Interurban Trail and the Union Pacific railroad tracks.

That means it falls about a quarter-mile short of connecting to a new street in Renton, Southwest 27th Street, which provides access off Oakesdale Avenue next to the Federal Reserve Bank to the Sounder station from the Renton Transit Center.

“That’s a critical stretch of road,” said Mayor Jim Haggerton.

Construction of the extension would cost about $20 million, about a third of which would go toward carrying traffic under the Union Pacific tracks, according to Bob Giberson, Tukwila’s public works director. Additional money is needed for project engineering and buying right of way.

Like Renton, Tukwila is considering building two lanes of a five-lane road initially but have room under the bridge and right of way for the additional three lanes.

Tukwila was turned down for a federal transportation grant; the competition for the $600 million available nationwide was stiff, Giberson said, and typically went to large state agencies, counties and ports.

The City of Tukwila has a pledge of $5 million from the state Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, but the question is whether that’s for a five-lane section or a two-lane section, Giberson said. He’s guessing the city would get partial funding, which is what happened in Renton’s similar situation.

Extending Strander Boulevard is one of the board’s “high-priority projects,” Giberson said.

To the north the two tracks use the same overpass on South 180th Street/Southwest 43rd Street, just east of West Valley Highway.

Haggerton said the city was told that a project’s first application for the federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant is often turned down and cities must reapply. The city will continue to seek the money, because of “good support” from U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Congressman Adam Smith.

In order to apply for the grant, the city will need to design the project, which will require obtaining other grants for that work, according to Giberson. The process could take two to five years; the project needs to be “shovel-ready” to apply for the TIGER grant, he said.

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