You might have caught this news update about Lakewood leading a $500,000 effort to improve Interstate traffic near Fort Lewis.
Given its proximity and relationship with the installation, the city is the ideal candidate to take the lead on the project. The Lakewood City Council started the process Monday night by approving $500,000 worth of studies to the corridor.
City officials say Fort Lewis is somewhat unique from other installations in that it’s located next to an urban area. I-5 gets nasty in the morning and afternoon when traffic from the post, along with McChord Air Force Base, floods nearby roads.
The Transpo Group and the state will study what exactly can be done to unclog congestion on I-5. The study – which focuses on the highway between Highway 512 and Mounts Road Southwest – is scheduled for completion in June 2010.
Although Lakewood is taking the lead on the study, it’s working with other communities and agencies affected by military traffic, including Roy, the Clover Park School District, Lacey and Pierce Transit.
Another city that would be affected is DuPont, especially in newer areas such as Northwest Landing. Fort Lewis alone is anticipating an extra 8,200 active military personnel and almost 2,000 new civilian jobs.
DuPont could be a hot spot for soldiers and their families looking to locate off post.
I was in DuPont today to chat with folks on their lunch hour about what kind of problems they experience with traffic. I also asked how they think the problem could be solved.
Kristy Pittman, a 27-year-old from Rainier who drives to DuPont for her dental assistant job, offered this question: Can they widen the road?
The city says that’s one of the many potential fixes to the problem, although locals say that alone won’t solve the problem.
"All that’s going to happen is other cars will use it," said Nikee McMillian, a 26-year-old University Place woman who commutes to DuPont.
Jacob MacGregor said he’s moving to DuPont in the coming weeks from Texas and was signing the lease today. He also has experience with traffic planning as a former pavement manager in Ann Arbor, Mich.
He agreed another lane won’t fix anything. "Adding another lane is like adding another lane for the maroons to drive in and doesn’t alleviate the problem.
Instead, he said Lakewood and I-5 communities affected by traffic need to focus on coordinating and focusing on choke points, such as on- and off-ramps.
"It’s not the lane," he said. "It’s the exiting and merging that’s the problem."
So here’s the question: How would you solve the I-5 traffic problems near Fort Lewis and McChord?