Monday, November 07, 2011

November RAMP Mtg Information: Grants

November's RAMP meeting was a full house to hear more about the grant applications for improvements along the I-5 corridor adjacent to JBLM.  This included a $5.7M grant through the Office of Economic Adjustment and a $34M grant through the TIGER III grant process.

(details after the jump)

Tom Pierson, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber CEO, opened the meeting by introducing Andrew Neiditz, City Manager at the City of Lakewood.  Andrew was able to share the good news that the City was awarded the OEA grant for $5.7M to make access improvements to Madigan Army Medical Center.  These improvements are expected to reduce congestion along this section of I-5 as well as the nearby surface streets.

For more details on the project, Andrew introduced Jeff Gonzales, also from the City of Lakewood.  Jeff highlighted the heavy congestion resulting from 150,000 trips in and out of JBLM each day onto the most heavily used freight corridor in the state.  This has resulted in a need of over $1 Billion in improvements to accomodate today's traffic.

While $5.7M is only a small portion of this, it was from a grant specifically targeted towards a base on the east coast.  This money will go towards additional lanes and safety features on both I-5 as well as nearby roads.  The presentation can be found here.

The second presentation was by Ron Landon with the Washington State Department of Transportation.  Ron discussed the much larger TIGER III grant application.  This application will include ramp meters, HOV bypasses, more WSDOT cameras, VMS signage, shoulder widening, and improvements to nearby interchanges.  

The proposed project would reduce delays at the Berkley Street interchange during the mid-day peak hour from a 10 minute or more delay to a 35 second delay.  While the OEA grant was just awarded, the TIGER III grant should be announced by the end of the year.  Ron's full presentation can be found here.

In addition to the two scheduled presentations, it was noted that both Sound Transit and the City of Tacoma have also applied for TIGER III grants.  The City is looking for assistance to make improvements to the Puyallup River Bridge Crossing while Sound Transit is looking to accelerate its schedule to expand rail service to southern King County.

Rachel Smith, from Sound Transit, highlighted some of the benefits of the Sound Transit application.  These benefits included expansion of the Sea-Tac line to South 200th with 1.6 miles of new track and associated facilites.  This project would be opened in 2016 creating 2000 new jobs and $3.5-5M of new private development investments.  In preparing the application, Sound Transit obtained letter of support from 170 different community members.

During the open session portion of the meeting, Port of Tacoma Commissioner Don Meyer shared the work he had been involved in with the Connecting Washington Task Force.  The task force has prepared a set of principles and performance objectives to use when evaluating investments in Washington's transportation system.  These objectives prioritize the preservation of the existing system and services over the long term.

For more on any of these topics, please feel free to contact David Schroedel with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber or the appropriate presenter directly.

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