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SR 167 or I-5? Board decides it’s not ‘Sophie’s Choice,’ OKs compromise

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on April 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm with No Comments »
April 26, 2012 1:51 pm

I wrote on Sunday that elected officials were considering adding an expansion of Interstate 5 to four lanes along Joint Base Lewis-McChord to their 30-year transportation plan. A proposal called for making room for the base project in the plan by removing parts of the proposed State Route 167 extension.

The executive board of the Puget Sound Regional Council today backed off that idea and approved a compromise with widespread support.

They didn’t touch the plans for Route 167 or other targeted megaprojects in the $190 billion plan, like Route 509 and I-90. Instead, they put the base projects in another part of the plan — a wish list that’s not attached to the plan’s $190 billion price tag.

The effect of all this is hard to pinpoint. It’s nice to be in the higher-priority portion of the plan, but that and $4 will get you a latte. You have to actually go out and find the money.

And even about a third of that higher-priority $190 billion doesn’t have funding identified to pay for it, including 167 and 509. Nor does the JBLM project, whether it’s in the higher or lower tier.

So the base project will at least be on the regional radar. “We needed to get it in the mix. We needed to get it in the plan,” said County Executive Pat McCarthy, who proposed the compromise.

“As I kept telling people, this is not Sophie’s Choice,” she said. “This is about us wanting it all.”

The board approved the plan with few dissenting votes, sending it for consideration by the council’s full assembly on June 7.

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