Friday, May 9, 2014

I-5 - JBLM Area Corridor Improvements - Future Plans

Public invited to WSDOT an open house about I-5 – JBLM Vicinity – Congestion Relief Study

Residents and highway users are invited to learn more and share their thoughts about potential improvements for Interstate 5 through the JBLM vicinity.

Open House Information:

When: 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Where: Eagles Pride Fort Lewis Golf Course
I-5 at exit 116, Mounts Road Southwest

Washington State Department of Transportation staff will host an open house to discuss alternatives being explored to improve traffic flow through the area which serves approximately 119,000 vehicles a day. No formal presentation is scheduled, and those interested in attending are welcome to come any time during the three hour open house.

WSDOT has worked closely with representatives of local governments, transit agencies, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, JBLM, Federal Highway Administration, and regional planning organizations to identify the causes of congestion in this area of I-5 and develop potential improvements.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Information Accommodation requests for people with disabilities can be made by contacting the WSDOT Diversity/ADA Affairs team or by calling toll-free, 855-362-4ADA (232). Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing may make a request by calling the Washington State Relay at 711.

Why is there so much congestion?

Interstate 5 is a national highway of strategic importance. It moves goods and people between two borders and links major cities. It is a critical corridor for military use. Over the past several years, traffic has increased along the entire I-5 corridor, and nowhere has that increase been more noticeable than in south Pierce County through the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) vicinity.

A combination of factors have contributed to the traffic growth through the area. Large businesses have moved in. JBLM and Camp Murray have expanded, and the communities of Lakewood, DuPont and Steilacoom have continued to develop. Each change has added demand on the already-crowded I-5 corridor. Motorists now see traffic congestion on a daily basis, especially during peak commute hours. Because secured military bases are located on both sides of I-5, alternate routes involve using perimeter roads around the bases. Those routes are neither convenient nor able to manage high volumes of traffic.

What is WSDOT doing about it?

In 2013, a joint I-5 corridor planning study involving WSDOT, JBLM and local jurisdictions evaluated the best way to improve transportation through the JBLM vicinity. The task of the planning study was to define improvements that could relieve congestion on I-5 from Center Drive to Gravelly Lake Drive, with a focus on the interchanges at the Steilacoom-DuPont exit (#119), 41st Division Drive/Main Gate exit (#120), Berkeley Street exit (#122) and the Thorne Lane exit (#123).

Specifically, the study addresses options to:
•    relieve congestion on I-5
•    improve system efficiency
•    enhance mobility
•    improve safety and operations
•    increase transit and alternative commute opportunities

This work is being performed in two phases. Phase 1 conducted a Corridor Feasibility Study. You can read the full report and the summary report linked below:

•    I-5 JBLM Vicinity IJR and Environmental Documentation Phase 1 Corridor Plan Feasibility Study
•    I-5 JBLM Vicinity IJR and Environmental Documentation Phase 1 - Summary Report

During Phase 2, WSDOT will conduct a comprehensive multi-modal corridor alternative analysis along with NEPA environmental studies and documentation. In this effort, WSDOT will evaluate alternatives off I-5 that could improve mobility along the corridor. Public involvement will be an important element of Phase 2.

Alternatives advanced from Phase 1 will be further evaluated along with those developed during Phase 2. WSDOT and other stakeholders will evaluate proposed revisions to interchanges and document them in an Interchange Justification Report (IJR). The alternative analysis will be conducted in 2014 along with initiation of the environmental studies and documentation.

In January 2014, WSDOT conducted an origin-destination study. The origin-destination study will better identify the nature of local trips and regional traffic on and near Interstate 5 between Center Drive and Gravelly Lake Drive.

Why are studies needed?

The planning study will result in an IJR, which is a study required by federal law used to justify revisions to highway interchanges. The IJR documents the design of the preferred alternative, the planning process, the evaluation of considered alternatives, and the support and justification for requesting an access revision. With the results from the report, project stakeholders can take action to implement the preferred solutions.

What will the completed study include?

•    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental documentation for proposed corridor improvements and preliminary engineering for the highest priority improvements.
•    A completed Interchange Justification Report for revisions to the four focus-area interchanges.

What is happening in the mean time?

While the planning study is underway, some construction is already taking place in the corridor, and more construction is scheduled to start soon.  The construction projects will provide short-term improvements to help relieve congestion.  Specifically, crews will:

•    Install ramp meters
•    Widen ramp lanes
•    Add a ramp lane and auxiliary lane
•    Install data collection stations
•    Install Intelligent Transportation System improvements

View a map here of these preliminary project features.

Financial Information

Financial Data for PINs 000513A & 300596S
Funding Source                                Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding)                      $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA)                                        $0
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF)                        $6,502
Total                                                         $6,502

How can I get more information?

Bill Elliott    
Olympic Region Plans Engineer

Claudia Bingham Baker      
WSDOT Communications Manager 

Direct Access to Website Info HERE.

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