Road design passes with reservations

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

The Bonney Lake City Council unanimously passed a resolution allowing the 192nd Avenue East corridor project to move to the 30 percent design phase, but members made it clear Pierce County must do its part to alleviate traffic problems in the region.

According to the resolution, the design will not proceed past 30 percent until the council decides to move the project forward. The finished highway is budgeted at about $14 million, but Public Works Director Dan Grigsby said the price tag would probably drop once the 30 percent design phase is completed.

The council's concern is the county's commitment to completing the Rhodes Lake Road corridor, providing an east-west route off the south Plateau to state Route 162.

Councilman Mark Hamilton said completing the 192nd corridor benefits developers like Cascadia and Falling Water to the south of the city in unincorporated Pierce County more than Bonney Lake. Cascadia is planning to build 6,500 homes and Falling Water 1,100 homes in the south Plateau region.

Hamilton said improving north-south corridors like 192nd and 198th will only cause “gridlock on (state Route) 410 if the Rhodes Lake Road corridor is not put in.”

The 192nd corridor is broken into four pieces and stretches from Rhodes Lake Road north to Sumner-Buckley Highway.

The 198th corridor extends from Cascadia to South Prairie Road and runs between the Bonney Lake High School and Mountain View Middle School.

The county has been planning to improve or replace Rhodes Lake Road for more than 10 years, but has yet to settle on a design.

“All of our traffic (congestion) calculations for the future are based on a new Rhodes Lake Road being in place,” Hamilton said. “I need a guarantee that if we make the connection of 192nd and 198th, we're not going to be stuck with all the congestion.”

Pierce County Councilman Shawn Bunney, who is also chairman of the Regional Transportation Investment District's executive board, said Rhodes Lake Road and state Route 162 are important elements in solving the region's traffic problem.

“I don't think their fears of Rhodes Lake Road not being finished are well founded,” Bunney said. “The idea that 192nd and 198th would end our interest doesn't ring true to me. My vision is to look at the larger strategy of north-south and east-west connections, of hooking roads to jobs and not having people drive to Seattle, but to work here. That's why an east-west corridor like Rhodes Lake Road is so important.”

As chairman, Bunney added $180 million to the district's proposed funding package for improvements SR 162.

Bill Lynn, an attorney representing Cascadia, said “we expect Cascadia will participate in the Rhodes Lake Road construction when phase two construction begins.”

Lynn said Cascadia's environmental impact study showed Rhodes Lake Road was not necessary for phase one.

Cascadia's phase one construction has begun and is planned for 1,719 homes.

Before 192nd corridor resolution was passed, Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman submitted an amendment that passed 4-3. The amendment dropped the 189th Avenue East cul-de-sac connection in the Fennel Ridge development to 192nd Avenue from the design.

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