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.


  1. At some point you just have to say no to new highways. While the idea is old, the actual construction of this highway is the construction of a new highway facility.

    At a time when we should be doing everything we can to be protecting the environment and focusing on smarter growth, this project would be a major setback to these statewide and regional goals. This project would gobble up land, facilitate more driving of personal vehicles (which will be the majority of users as they are on any highway) which bring negative externalities of pollution, the enabling of sprawl and inactive lifestyles to name just a few negatives.

    Also at a time when other projects such as the Murray Morgan bridge, the Puyallup river bridge and all the potholes in the City of Tacoma aren't being worked on, the last thing we need are more highways. Instead we should fix the problems we already have first.

    Furthermore, there are a whole swath of other programs the could use the money that are perennially underfunded such as all of Pierce Transit, extending Tacoma Link and Tacoma's Mobility Master Plan. Diverting $2 billion to these projects would make a major difference.

    Oh and are you seriously still promoting the Cross-Base highway? Please enter into the newer age where highways aren't the end-all be-all solution to problems.

  2. I just found the report where your claim of $10.1 billion and 79,000 jobs came from. From the report: "A primary indirect impact of the SR 167 Extension is the support the project lends to the containerized cargo industry..." Therefore, the highway is not the cause of these massive benefits, it is actually the containerized cargo industry. Please do not tout these benefits anymore.

  3. Thank you for your comment. You are right; it is the multi-billion dollar freight industry that relies on highway investments to provide jobs and infuse the economy with capital. Highways do create employment during construction and even as part of an ongoing necessity for operations, upgrades and maintenance. However, that is probably not relevant to the argument that highways don’t themselves employ substantial jobs or generate economic gross product.

    Highways, like railroads and terminals are implementers of wealth generation. They allow and facilitate commerce. Without highways and other transportation modes, our economic system based on comparative advantage and economies of scale could not work.