The Tillicum community will hold a rally at the Lakewood City Council meeting on Monday night to oppose a revived proposal to move the main gate serving Camp Murray.
The Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association and related Tillicum Action Committee will use the gathering to demonstrate to the City Council the community opposition to the proposal due to concerns about a lot of traffic driving down a major residential street.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of Lakewood City Hall, 6000 Main St. SW.
David Anderson, the neighborhood association’s president, pledged that the group would exhaust its appeals if the project moves forward.
“We only have one approach to this: no gate move at all,” he said. “It makes no sense.”
City Manager Andrew Neiditz said the city is receptive to moving the gate to the location it initially objected to after a recent traffic analysis showed little difference in traffic impact between moving the gate there or to the city’s preferred alternative — a block south at the end of Grant Avenue.
He said moving the gate would be “non-starter” for the city without mitigation the military department will pay for to deter pass-through motorists on the residential street, Portland Avenue, which connects to the Interstate 5 interchange serving North Thorne Lane.
“The status quo, leaving the gate as it is, is just not acceptable,” he said.
The Washington State Military Department, headquartered at Camp Murray, has proposed moving the main gate from the intersection of Berkeley Street and Union Avenue to the intersection of Boundary Street and Portland Avenue. Officials there said the current gate’s proximity to a busy intersection, Interstate 5 interchange and a rail line that could see increased use is unsafe for its citizen-soldiers, employees and visitors.
Neighbors worried that the new location would be unsafe for their community. The most recent traffic analysis estimates an additional 900 vehicles a day would travel down Portland if the gate were moved either to Boundary/Portland or Grant.
In September, talks collapsed after the military department was unable to commit federal money budgeted for the project by the end of the federal fiscal year because the city of Lakewood declined to issue a right-of-way permit for the Boundary/Portland location. The city said it would issue a permit for the end of Grant Avenue — a block to the south — if the state agency complied with numerous conditions. The permit is required to connect the new gate to the public street.
The state department was able to move the federal money into the current federal fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
The National Guard Bureau had been awaiting for an agreement between the city and military department to complete the environmental review process, required for the project to move forward.
Last week, the city announced a proposal enabling the military department to move the gate to the Boundary/Portland location after it agreed to provide $1.2 million in traffic improvements to the area to address the anticipated increase in traffic.
Neiditz said the city still preferred Grant after learning the traffic impacts were about the same whether the gate moved to Boundary/Portland or Grant, but the military department said that location couldn’t work. Camp Murray indicated its security protocols required a minimum distance between waiting vehicles and existing buildings and parking lots, and a Grant Avenue gate wouldn’t meet those standards without reconfiguration, the city manager explained.
The city also felt the extensive mitigation, including five raised crosswalks on Portland and designating a school zone along the corridor so police officers can issue stiffer fines, would serve as a deterrent for pass-through motorists.
The analysis used to justify the move also concluded that leaving the gate where it is “provides the least overall improvement in Camp Murray access and general traffic operations in the Tillicum neighborhood, even assuming approximately $1.3 million in improvements at the Union Avenue SW/Berkeley Street SW intersection.”
The two agencies are finalizing the proposal. Once finalized, the military department can complete the environmental review, leading the city to issue the permit.
Issuance of the permit doesn’t require City Council approval, but Neiditz said he “is not going to propose something if the City Council doesn’t think it’s reasonable.”
City Council members were noncommittal in discussing the new proposal during a presentation last week, indicating that they have more questions about moving the gate.