Efforts to relieve congestion on Interstate 5 through Joint Base Lewis-McChord received a $6.9 boost earlier this month.
The supplemental transportation budget state lawmakers approved included the money for studies required by the federal government to rebuild five interchanges along the freeway corridor in Pierce and Thurston counties.
A regional alliance formed last year to better manage South Sound’s military-related growth had requested $7 million. The House and Senate had set aside a total of $5 million in each of their transportation budgets, but negotiations to iron out differences ended up adding another $1.9 million.
Lakewood Mayor Doug Richardson said in a statement that the investment by state lawmakers is critical to improving traffic flow around the base and throughout the region.
The money would pay for the studies, known as interchange justification reports, for five I-5 interchanges serving Lewis-McChord and its vicinity: DuPont-Steilacoom Road, Berkeley Avenue and North Thorne Lane in Pierce County, and Marvin Road and Martin Way in Thurston County.
The Federal Highway Administration requires the reports to ensure that new interchanges aren’t gumming up the nation’s interstate system and interfering with the free and safe flow of people and goods.
Completion of the studies would enable the corridor to compete for federal construction dollars. An earlier study estimated the cost of improving the three Pierce County interchanges at between $344 million and $444 million.
Follow me on Twitter @TNTchill