Friday, September 24, 2010

WSDOT announces plans for I-5 congestion relief

The Washington State Department of Transportation has announced plans to partner with Joint Base Lewis McChord to help ease congestion motorists are currently experiencing on northbound Interstate 5 between Lacey and DuPont.

Those actions include improving signal timing at DuPont/Steilacoom and Nisqually interchanges, adding more WSDOT incident response crews to quickly clear disabled vehicles in the area, and working closely with personnel from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) to coordinate other congestion-reducing efforts.

Recently, numerous drivers have reported to WSDOT that the five-mile stretch of I-5 between Lacey and JBLM is taking up to an hour during morning commutes.

Both agencies are also vigorously pursuing intermediate and longer-term solutions, including installing ramp meters, closed-circuit TV cameras, and other driver information tools that will provide WSDOT and motorists real-time traffic information and active traffic management along the corridor. Those tools could be installed as soon as spring 2011, or when funds become available.

WSDOT engineers that have been observing the increased and daily congestion analyzed traffic data through the corridor and reported that volumes on the northbound I-5 on-ramps at Mounts Road and Nisqually have noticeably increased. They believe that ramp meters could improve traffic flow on I-5 by regulating the rate at which vehicles enter I-5 at these ramps.

“Population growth over the past several years has put us near capacity on this section of I-5,” said Kevin Dayton, region administrator. “That combined with the recent redeployment of troops has’ tipped the cup’ in terms traffic volumes that can be handled in this corridor.”

Officials at the base concede that growth at JBLM and the recent return of soldiers from deployment are contributors to the current morning congestion. Base officials have convened a working group to recommend immediate actions that could further ease traffic congestion.

JBLM officials are also looking for ways to mitigate the base’s impact on traffic. The base has participated in a Department of Defense (DOD)-funded regional traffic study and a DOD-funded study to identify and mitigate issues associated with the base’s growth. WSDOT and local municipalities have all taken part in the efforts. Together, the agencies have applied for a grant to take this study to the next level.

“We have an outstanding partnership with JBLM, working traffic-related issues,” said Kevin Dayton, “We’re continuing this partnership as we look for immediate and long term solutions to our collective transportation needs.”

For now, Dayton asks drivers to change their driving patterns if they have the flexibility to do so. WSDOT encourages drivers to watch and listen to local news broadcasts, visit or call 511 to “know before you go.” You can find all this information and more at

Friday, September 17, 2010

Port of Tacoma Distributes Clean Truck Stickers

The Port of Tacoma is making special stickers available as part of its clean truck program.

The stickers can be placed on the driver-side door of trucks that have 1994 or newer model year engines, the port said in a statement. The deadline to comply for all trucks delivering or picking up from Port terminals is January 1, 2011. More than 500 stickers have already been distributed to trucks that are preregistered under the Port’s best management practices list.

Between October 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010, the Port of Tacoma will begin identifying trucks without stickers and informing drivers of the clean truck program standards and the requirement to display the clean truck sticker.

TATS the Second Time

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I-5 and Growth at Camp Murray

Most of you have probably followed the developing controversy within the Tillicum community about proposed gate relocation for Washington National Guard's HQ at Camp Murray.

Seemingly a simple question of where to stack the queue turns into a more complex problem when the needful expansion of I-5 is considered. Recently, Lakewood, as lead in the Office of Economic Adjustment funded study of I-5 between (roughly) SR-512 and DuPont, found a necessity to accommodate the employment growth at JBLM to increase capacity and support infrastructure.

That point, among several, is brought home in an open letter by WNG Adjutant General Timothy Lowenberg on the issue pledging to work with (not "rolling over") the installation's neighbors. That's all here in the enclosed letter.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Brown Bag Webinar Canx

The Brown Bag webinar has been cancelled for this Thursday given the lack of participants (there were only three registrants as of yesterday). The presentation will be available on the Port’s web site beginning on Thursday and will be available for viewing over the next few months. Viewers will be able to post questions/comments and receive feedback.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

President Obama announces transportation funding proposal

WSDOT’s Federal Transporation Issues blog reports that yesterday President Obama announced a proposal that includes a $50 billion "upfront investment" in roads, transit, rail and airport runways, and also provides clues about the administration's priorities for the next surface transportation program (such as moving away from earmarking to performance-based funding). It's part of a larger proposal to stimulate the economy and create jobs in the short term. Read more here

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Action Needed on Transportation Before Funding Out

The current extension of federal law reauthorizing the important federal funding for our transportation system expires on December 31, 2010.

We hear from Members of Congress and their staffs that the absence of vocal and widespread public engagement is a signal that doing a highway and transit reauthorization bill is not worth the effort.

Here is the U.S. Chamber’s interactive state map that will show you how much money and time our crumbling transportation system is costing consumers. Your cost: $266!  That's time sitting in traffic thanks to inadequate capacity, the cost of fixing your car because of potholes, and the millions needed to bring our transit systems up to speed.

Take action by writing our elected officials and asking them to make transportation funding a priority before December.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

SR-167 Extension Maintains Momentum

Contributed by Michael Transue, Government Affairs and Lobbying Services on behalf of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber

The proposed extension of SR-167 from Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma is not a new idea – it has been envisioned in the highway’s design for approximately 30 years. On the one hand, the proposed SR-167 extension continues to lack full funding. On the other hand, the project’s economic rewards, including an estimated $10.1 billion in estimated new payroll, better freight mobility, and the creation of 79,000 jobs by 2025, remain true. Other important benefits include.

• Congestion relief on local roads and neighboring communities;

• Faster and safer local travel options for motorists and freight movement;

• Improved regional mobility by giving motorists and trucks much better access to I-5, the existing I-167 corridor, and the Port of Tacoma; and

• Enhanced surface water quality and improved stream habitat.

Planning for the future funding cycles and appropriations will be one key to the success of the project. The State continues to move forward in discussing (and hopefully funding at some point) the current list of outstanding mega transportation projects, including the SR-167 extension.

Pierce County businesses and business leaders will need to be ready to support and advocate to the legislature and other elected officials that the SR-167 extension be included in any proposed state-wide funding package. Several studies have been completed to date on the extension including an “SR-167 tolling feasibility study” recently completed by WSDOT.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber has been asked by our business and government leaders to make the SR-167 project its top-tier priority moving forward – we can do so without diminishing our support for the Cross-Base highway. As the 2011 Session approaches, still in the mitts of a recession, a state-wide funding package seems unlikely. November 2009 election results will have some impact on the Legislature and our advocacy efforts – the extent to which we won’t know until then. The prospects for such a package in the 2012 Session seem much more likely.

To that end, the Transportation Partnership has been re-invigorated and re-established. The Partnership was the driving force for the transportation revenue packages at the state level in 2003 and 2005. The Partnership’s Steering Committee will consist of leaders from the labor community, businesses interests (Tacoma-Pierce County and Greater King County Chambers), the Washington Roundtable, and interests from the Spokane and Vancouver areas.

The Transportation Partnership intends to advocate for a state-wide effort to fund the construction of the remaining mega projects in the state – including the SR-167 extension. The early involvement, at all levels, by Pierce County’s business and government leaders is critical to the success of this project. As the Transportation Partnership develops its agenda, strategies, and action plan(s), the Chamber via RAMP will keep members and RAMP participants informed and encourage their involvement and advocacy at the appropriate time.