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Residents raise concerns at 198th corridor meeting
By Dennis Box
Pierce County staff members brought easels, brochures and maps to a public meeting at the Bonney Lake High School commons July 18, a session that attracted about 40 residents and city officials.
The meeting was designed to explain the 198th Avenue East corridor expansion project. The work will involve 2.5 miles of roadway between 144th Street East and 104th Street East near Bonney Lake High and Mountain View Middle School.
The county and Cascadia Development Corporation will be working jointly on the design and construction of the project.
Cascadia is in the early stages of a 6,500-home development in the south Plateau region. The 198th corridor will be one of the main thoroughfares for residents living in Cascadia to access state Route 410.
Cascadia's work on the project is part of a traffic mitigation agreement between the developer and the county.
Cascadia is to be built in three phases. The first phase calls for the construction of about 1,700 homes. The developer's work on the corridor is based on when a certain number of houses are built, known as “triggers.”
At 650 homes, Cascadia would construct the missing link between 112th Street East and Rhodes Lake Road, allowing access to South Prairie Road and SR 410 from the southern region. Signal lights at Rhodes Lake Road and 120th Street East will also be installed and a northbound turn lane will be added on Rhodes Lake Road at 198th Avenue East.
At about 1,200 homes, the corridor would be widened to four or five lanes between 120th and 144th Street East. This is estimated to be constructed between 2010 to 2013.
Public Works and Utilities Director Brian Ziegler said the meeting was meant to inform the public about the project. Representatives from the county, Cascadia and the city's Public Works Department were on hand.
Zielger said the corridor is still in the design phase, but the project would continue to move forward with a complete SEPA study (State Environmental Policy Act) and right-of-way acquisitions.
Many of the residents at the meeting are directly impacted by the project and a number of people were not happy with the road or the prospect of Cascadia.
“I just wish they had another way to get off the hill,” Lynda Paulsen said. “Right now it takes us a long time to get to the bottom of (state Route) 410. It's already at capacity.”
Scott and Angie Salo live on 198th Avenue East and said they stand to lose more than 1,000 square feet of their back yard when the road is expanded.
“It's a poor plan at best and it has been (poorly) communicated,” Scott Salo said. “Essential they are saying take it or leave it.”
Angie Salo said the couple moved to the area three years ago from Tacoma and they had no idea they would be “getting a freeway in my backyard. I'm a little discouraged with what Bonney Lake has turned into.”
Zeigler said the finished project, which includes widening to four or five lanes up to 104th Street East with curb and gutters will be part of phase two negotiations.
Dennis Box can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.