Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Transportation Model Illustrates Benefits of SR-167 Completion

The Puget Sound Regional Council has completed some really innovative modeling that examines who benefits most from the completion of SR-167. This information was shared with Cambridge Systematics, the consulting firm examining freight infrastructure funding in Washington state. Cambridge shared this information with the Legislature's Joint Transportation Committee this week.

The first notable data point shared with the JTC is that 85.6 percent of the benefits (as measured by improved travel time, reliability and operating cost savings) would go to passenger vehicles. Light trucks would capture 10.9 percent of the benefit; medium trucks 2.3 percent; and heavy trucks 1.1 percent. In recent years, some have described the SR-167 extension as simply a project to benefit the Port of Tacoma. While it is true that the freeway provides a critical link for heavy trucks traveling between the Port's terminals on the Tideflats with the warehouses and distribution centers in the Kent Valley, what seems to be lost in the discussion is how this freeway would be an enormous boon for the average commuter.

This leads us to the second important data point: a completed SR-167 would reduce the average daily vehicle-hours of delay by about 5.1% in 2020. What makes this number impressive is that it measures improvement not just in the immediate area of the project, but throughout the entire four county area (Pierce, King, Snohomish and Kitsap counties). It would be interesting if the PSRC could narrow their focus to just the SR-167 and I-5 corridor in Pierce and south King counties to see how large this number might actually get.

Nonetheless, the PSCRC data is an important reminder for all of us that finishing SR-167, a project that has been left undone for decades, would greatly benefit the average driver in Pierce County.

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