This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.
A six-mile strip of uncompleted highway has become the state’s biggest economic bottleneck. Fortunately, lawmakers now recognize that state Route 167 must be extended – at long last – from Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma.
The lingering debate is whether the $1.5 billion project should be tackled without enough money or as a single-lane “highway.” We hope the Legislature will recognize the futility – and the financial waste – of such half-measures.
That six-mile gap is the graveyard of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of jobs and opportunity. Phasing is the reason the gap exists.
SR 167 was originally intended to run south from Interstate 405 in Renton through the Kent Valley, then turn west at Puyallup and connect to Interstate 5 and the port. But the money ran out, six miles short, in the late 1980s.
Twenty-five years later, this final critical phase remains unfunded – and the state is paying dearly.
Lacking a corridor to the Kent Valley, I-405 and beyond, trucks from the Port of Tacoma are forced onto I-5 in Fife, congesting the freeway and getting themselves caught in that congestion.
This backup is a grave threat to the port, one of the state’s most powerful generators of payrolls. Pacific Rim shippers don’t have to send their freight through Tacoma or Seattle; if it takes too long to get their truck-borne cargoes to Interstate 90 – headed for Chicago and other big markets – they can switch to Vancouver, B.C., or Southern California.
That missing six miles of SR 167 is threatening jobs far beyond the port itself.
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