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Expansion work to begin on South Prairie Road

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By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

After a few roadblocks and pit stops, the expansion project for South Prairie Road appears to be getting the green light.

Pierce County Public Works and Utilities officials and the city's Public Works Department released a schedule of construction work with the start date of the project set for this week.

The project has been on the city and county's drawing board for about 12 years, but with the Cascadia development south of the city beginning the first phase of a 6,500 home build-out in the spring of 2007, the opening of the Bonney Lake High School last year and all the other home developments in the immediate area, the need for relief became immediate.

Woodworth and Company from Tacoma will be the construction firm in charge of the project. The city's portion of the construction cost, about $2 million, is being paid by the Cascadia Corporation as part of a traffic mitigation agreement signed in June.

The road will be expanded to five lanes, two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane. There will be a right turn off state Route 410 and another off South Prairie Road onto 200th Court East. The intersection of 200th Court East and South Prairie Road will be designed to allow a legal U-turn.

The first action on the construction schedule involves tree removal and clearing, allowing Puget Sound Energy and Qwest to move their utilities lines, both above ground and below ground.

Tree removal is scheduled to begin today, Wednesday, with clearing, earthwork and a rock wall construction to last until the end of August.

A 120-day period from September to February is planned for the utility companies to complete their work at the site.

Storm drain construction begins in late February and is planned to be completed in March.

The road excavation work is penciled in for a March beginning with pavement rolled out in May.

Public Works Director Dan Grigsby said the schedule is very tentative at this point.

“Depending on the weather the project could extend into July or early August,” Grigsby said. “We would really want it completed for the start of school in 2007.'

Grigsby said initially the project will not have a significant impact on the traffic using South Prairie Road, but once excavation work begins, alternate routes are suggested for those not living next to the project site.

Some delays are expected during the tree removal phase over the next two weeks.

When the contractor begins excavation work, one lane is required to be kept open.

Grigsby said 20-minute delays are anticipated, but the contractor is not allowed to cause serious traffic jams during rush hour on SR 410.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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