It’s a $1.5 billion project near the top of wish lists for many in business, labor and Pierce County government circles.
But the decades-long effort to complete State Route 167 is often is overshadowed by other road projects — especially those tied to safety, like the planned new Route 520 floating bridge over Lake Washington, or commuters’ frustration, like the Columbia River Crossing on Interstate 5.
A new coalition is trying to bring more attention to the long-delayed extension of 167 from its current end point near Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma. The port badly wants the project as a way to speed up shipment of freight, luring more cargo to the port.
“Part of the premise around the push is the fact that 167 needs to be seen as a very, very important and critical transportation project that is of statewide significance,” Tim Thompson said.
Thompson is the consultant to the so-called SR-167 Completion Coalition, which hopes to organize 167 supporters to lobby the Legislature for funding. It doesn’t have its own lobbyist but will coordinate efforts by those already pushing for the project.
New Gov. Jay Inslee and new Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom have voiced support for raising some kind of transportation taxes this year. House transportation leaders have been working on such a package, although House Speaker Frank Chopp hasn’t so far embraced the idea, declaring his first priority is the operating budget that includes education.
Denny Heck, the new Democratic congressman from Olympia who represents much of suburban Pierce County, is taking a prominent role on the coalition’s executive committee along with heavy hitters from local government, business and unions:
- Co-Chair: Dick Marzano, Port of Tacoma Commissioner
- Co-Chair: John Parrot, TOTE (Totem Ocean Trailer Express)
- Pat McCarthy, Pierce County Executive
- Marilyn Strickland, Mayor of Tacoma
- Pete Lewis, Mayor of Auburn
- Glen Hull, Mayor Pro-tem City of Fife
- Tom Pierson, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President
- Bill Sterud, Puyallup Tribe
- Scott Mason, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23
- Toby Murray, Murray Pacific Corporation
- Tim Thompson, Project Consultant