News

More lanes bring out questions

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

The expansion of the 198th/199th Avenue East corridor recently hit home to residents living on the road.

Cascadia, a land development company, is planning to widen and connect 198th and 199th Avenue East as part of a mitigation agreement with Pierce County.

The plan is for 198th to be expanded to a four-lane road (or five lanes with a turn lane) coming out of Cascadia north to Rhodes Lake Road where the road currently ends. Cascadia will extend 198th, connecting it to 199th as four or five lanes up to 112th Street East, the southern border of Mountain View Middle School and Bonney Lake High School.

Initially the road would become two lanes between the schools to about 108th Street East, and that is where questions arise.

Residents living in the Wilderness Ridge development on 105th Street East said surveyors from Cascadia have been collecting data and talking to homeowners about widening the road.

Wilderness Ridge is part of a section of land running form the north edge of the Mountain View Middle School property, about 108th Street East, to 104th Street East. The area has not been annexed into the city and is part of unincorporated Pierce County.

From 104th to South Prairie Road, 199th turns into 200th Court East and will be widened to a four-lane road.

The homeowners living along 199th Street East between 107th and 104th Street East are hearing rumors the four lanes will continue from 112th Street East, passing in front of the school and cutting into some back yards.

Three of the homeowners attended the Jan. 10 Bonney Lake City Council meeting expressing concerns about he impact of the road expansion on their property and the schools.

Jim Konop, who lives in Wilderness Ridge, said his concern is if the road expands to four or five lanes his property will be severely impacted and the traffic will create safety problems at the school.

“We were told they would knock the road through 15 years ago when we bought the house,” Konop said. “They had to disclose that, but not a five lane highway. It was supposed to be two lanes. The surveyors were a good 10 to 15 feet inside my property line, which lines up with a four or five lane highway.”

According to Jesse Hamashima, transportation planning supervisor from the Pierce County Public Works Department, Cascadia signed a mitigation agreement with the county to pay for the widening project.

“Given the (traffic) volumes expected on the road, there is a question about the number of lanes,” Hamashima said. “Our department is sensitive to getting the information out as quickly as possible (to residents). Cascadia would like to start relatively soon.”

Cascadia is one of the main reasons the road needs to be widened. The company is building 6,500 homes south of Bonney Lake with Phase 1 (1,719 homes) beginning this year.

Figuring out where and how to funnel traffic coming out of Cascadia heading north toward Bonney Lake has been a simmering issues among city officials for years.

“I don't feel comfortable with five lanes in front of our high school,” Mayor Neil Johnson said. “That's not safe. And we don't want everything (from Cascadia) coming through Bonney Lake. This shouldn't be the main corridor.”

Tom Uren, director of engineering for Cascadia, said the specific details of the road expansion have not been settled. “The county requested of Cascadia build a portion of this road project,” Uren said “We are just doing survey work. Eventually it will be a four lane, but it's not all going to happen tomorrow.”

Uren said the surveyors residents have seen are gathering “base data to determine what is necessary.” After the information is gathered a 30 percent design plan will be put together, which will then be presented to the public.

Konop said if he lost 15 feet of his property to the road he would lose access to most of his back yard.

“We like it here,” Konop said. “We want to raise our family here and it would be painful to move or lose our back yard. This seems like a stop-gap measure to deal with the traffic, but the impact is forever.”

As Cascadia nears the beginning of Phase 1, it has run into some speed bumps and more may be on the horizon.

Orting is balking at an agreement it made to provide sewer to the development. The city filed a lawsuit in November 2005 stating the agreement needs to be rewritten for legal and financial reasons.

Cascadia has filed a multi-million dollar countersuit asking for damages from Orting.

Patrick Kuo, president and CEO of Cascadia, said he thought the legal issues could be worked out with Orting's new mayor, Cheryl Temple, and expects to begin Phase 1 “in late summer or early fall.”

“With communication and working together we can take care of any problems,” Kuo said.

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

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