The Department of Defense announced Tuesday it will provide $5.7 million to improve the Interstate 5 interchange serving Madigan Army Medical Center.
The money to relieve congestion on the Berkeley Avenue interchange would amount to the most significant public investment to any of the interchanges serving Joint Base Lewis-McChord since their construction at least 40 years ago
The city of Lakewood, which is heading the regional effort to address the impacts of rapid military growth in the South Sound, requested the money last month.
The federal Office of Economic Adjustment will distribute $300 million for eight transportation projects where closures, mergers or other force adjustments Congress ordered in 2005 have impeded access to health care at military hospitals. Lewis-McChord is the only military installation on the West Coast to receive funding through the program. Six transportation projects connected to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland and Fort Belvoir, Va., received the lion’s share of the money, or $268.9 million.
Two government reports released this year have urged the Pentagon to do more to improve roads around growing military installations such as Lewis-McChord
The project would construct a third travel lane on the overpass, renamed the Freedom Bridge in 2006; add a second left turn lane on southbound offramp to prevent cars from backing up onto I-5 during the morning; and make other fixes to the intersection of Union Avenue and Berkeley Street.
The fixes are short-term. A study released last year recommended reconstructing Berkeley and three other antiquated interchanges serving Lewis-McChord to help reduce I-5 traffic congestion. The entire project could take 10 to 15 years to complete. The Berkeley interchange project is estimated to cost $22 million to $72 million, the study said.
The state renamed the span in 2006 to honor the thousands of service members who cross it as they prepare to deploy overseas.