Chase Charaba, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Local roadway Shaw Road will be closed for expansion starting in April. That’s if work goes according to the estimated timeline.
The road will be closed from 23rd Avenue Southeast to Manorwood Drive during the first phase of construction, which is expected to last through October or November. In this phase, Shaw Road will be expanded to include left-turn lanes.
“The roadway section calls for, from west to east, (a) 5-foot sidewalk, travel lane, left turn lane or planted median (and a) 10-foot shared use path,” Puyallup City Engineer Mark Palmer said.
During construction, Pierce College Puyallup students who normally use Shaw Road to get to class will likely have to use one of the detour routes because Shaw Road will be closed to all traffic.
According to the City of Puyallup, the project will also include three new crosswalks with rectangular rapid flash beacons at Manorwood Drive, Forest Green Boulevard and Cherokee Boulevard.
Two public open houses enabled Puyallup residents to ask questions and share their concerns about the project and the various plans. Ultimately, city officials chose the plan based on this feedback and the costs.
The project was proposed because traffic has increased on Shaw Road and other major roadways in the Puyallup area. Palmer said the increase in traffic on Shaw Road was because of the completion of the Shaw Road Overpass project at Pioneer Avenue and various improvements between 39th Avenue Southeast and Sunrise (along 122nd Avenue East). These improvements made Shaw Road a viable alternative to South Meridian Street/Meridian Avenue East.
One such detour is 23rd Avenue Southeast to Wildwood Park Drive and then 39th Avenue Southeast. Another route is to use South Meridian Street to 39th Avenue Southeast or to take 23rd Avenue Southeast to Seventh Street Southeast, where students can use the West Access Road entrance to the college near Bradley Lake Park.
The closure is also expected to affect traffic on other north-south roadways in the area as drivers find alternative ways.
“The traffic models indicate that the loads will be spread out along SR 162, SR 161 (Meridian) (and) Canyon Road along with some vehicles driving the detour around the project,” Palmer said. “As was indicated during the public meetings, while this will be somewhat painful, trying to keep the road open during construction did little to improve the situation and lengthened the project by several months.”
Keeping Shaw Road open during construction would have also cost more because of traffic control.
“(The project cost) would have been $830,000 higher if we tried to keep Shaw Road open during construction,” Palmer said.
The project will impact Pierce students who currently use the route to get to school.
“I use it (Shaw Road) to get to school and I take my brother and sister to school in the morning,” student Jasmine Boisselle said. “I live in downtown Puyallup. I would have to go all the way around to get to, my sister goes to Emerald Ridge and my brother goes to Glacier View, and then I go here (Pierce) and I’d have to go all the way around.”
Boisselle, who lives near Shaw Road Elementary, said she’d have to take back roads to get to the college once construction starts, (such as the West Access Road.) Boisselle said this will result in more traffic on the back roads.
“Shaw Road is super busy at 5 p.m., and it’s backed up all the way to the end,” Boisselle said. “If they shut down Shaw Road, everyone is going to try to take the other way, and it’s going to be more packed. So, it’s really not helping.”
Student Kobee Henson also said the closure would result in more traffic in the area.
“All of the traffic’s going to be redirected to Meridian or 94th because those are the two main roads people know,” Henson said. “People are going to have to wake up earlier, so they can plan for the traffic and plan for the redirection and the detours.”
The expansion between 23rd Avenue Southeast and Manorwood Drive was chosen first because of the lower cost. Palmer said the project will cost between $6-7 million, whereas expanding Shaw Road between 12th Avenue Southeast and 23rd Avenue Southeast would’ve cost near $25-35 million.
The project is being mostly funded through the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board grant and about 20 percent is coming from Puyallup’s stormwater fund, Palmer said.
Many residents have questioned why a five-lane roadway much like the 94th Avenue East and 176th Street East expansions was not considered because Shaw Road is a major route for Puyallup and South Hill residents as well as a direct route to the State Route 410 interchange in Sumner.
Palmer said a five-lane roadway wasn’t considered for the expansion because of the higher cost and because of traffic analysis for the planning period through 2030.
“A five-lane roadway section was not contemplated for this segment of road primarily because of the potential cost of right-of-way acquisition and that traffic analysis showed a three-lane section would address traffic volumes through the planning period,” Palmer said.
There’s still work to complete before construction will begin in April. Palmer said 90 percent of the plans are currently under review by the city and property negotiations are continuing. The timeline has the bidding process set to begin in March. Palmer said the city and design consultant KPG produced plans and specifications for the bidding process.
The project was originally supposed to start by August 2016, but it’s now nine months behind the proposed schedule. The project is also expected to be over budget, costing $6.95 million instead of the estimated $6.37 million.
The Shaw Road project is one of many road projects coming to the Puyallup and South Hill area in the coming years.
Pierce County announced plans to expand 94th Avenue East between 144th Street East and 136th Street East to a five-lane roadway. According to the Pierce County website, right-of-way acquisition has already begun.
Another Pierce County project is the addition of a traffic signal and roadway expansion at the intersection of 122nd Avenue East and Sunrise Parkway in South Hill. According to the Pierce County website, the project would add two new southbound left turn lanes, a new northbound left turn lane, new sidewalks and street lighting and a traffic signal. Right-of-way acquisition, permitting and engineering is expected to begin in June with construction to start sometime before 2020.
But first comes the Shaw Road project and the road’s closure for most of 2017.
Henson said the plan to only add left turn lanes and paths isn’t worth the road being closed from April to November.
“That doesn’t make sense,” Henson said. “A turn lane? So, you’re going to shut down a whole road for a turn lane? For like five months? That’s just crazy. That makes no sense.”
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