Traffic between Park Avenue in Buckley, pictured, and 244th in Enumclaw can be horrendous, as local commuters know. The Department of Transportation is looking at how to reduce that congestion, and will be letting the public know some of its potential strategies during upcoming open houses. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Traffic between Park Avenue in Buckley, pictured, and 244th in Enumclaw can be horrendous, as local commuters know. The Department of Transportation is looking at how to reduce that congestion, and will be letting the public know some of its potential strategies during upcoming open houses. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

DOT invites public to see SR 410 survey results

Changes to help reduce traffic on the highway will be slow in coming, but one of the first major steps has now been completed.

Last spring, the Department of Transportation sent out a survey for Enumclaw, Buckley, Bonney Lake and other nearby communities about how they’d like to see state Route 410 traffic improved.

According to a recent press release, close to 2,800 people responded — and those results will be made public during two open house events next week, along with potential strategies the DOT is considering in order to increase the highway’s efficiency.

The first open house is Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Buckley Council Chambers on 811 Main St.

The second is Thursday, Oct. 11, at the same time at the Enumclaw Council Chambers on 1339 Griffin Ave.

There’s no formal presentation at these events; attendees can come by at any time to ask questions or look at the various displays set out by DOT staff.

This study, which cost $300,000, was just the start of a long process to begin improvements on the corridor, said DOT spokeswoman Claudia Bingham-Baker.

“That’s a frequent frustration for the public — they see us going out and asking their opinion and they don’t see any results on the roadway once they’ve given their opinion,” Bingham-Baker said. “It’s the first step in a long process, but it is a very necessary first step that helps us define what improvements are appropriate, what improvements that we want to scope out… and it also that vital step of asking the movers and shakers of a community, as well as the residents of a community what they would like to see.”

She added that before state legislators even begin discussing which projects they want to fund, the first thing politicians ask the DOT is whether the department has collected local community opinions.

At the moment, the state has not obligated any funds for SR 410 improvements, though the DOT is narrowing down what highway improvement options they’re likely to pursue, thanks to the survey and contact with impacted cities.

According to study lead T.J. Nedrow, the department is looking at what improvements can be made in the short-term, medium-term, and long-term.

In the short-term, the “low hanging fruit” is talking with various jurisdictions and employers about better transportation options, Nedrow said, which could include creating park-and-pool lots and public transportation options to help commuters “drive prudently,” and look at better Foothills Trail access for non-motorized commuting.

In the mid-term comes “intersection improvements,” Nedrow said, which could include better traffic signals, or potentially replacing signals with roundabouts.

“We believe with our intersection improvements, we can delay the need for constructing an additional crossing of the White River to further accommodate the capacity needs that the current bridge will not offer,” Nedrow said.

But a new bridge may be in the cards, albeit likely in the far future, when the DOT hopes to look at much larger changes to SR 410.

A common request from both area residents and cities is for the DOT to widen the highway, but “our data is showing that is not entirely necessary for the whole corridor,” Nedrow said. For example, Nedrow and his team believe one of the most congested portions of the highway — between 244th Avenue in Enumclaw and Park Avenue in Buckley — could be relieved if only the west-bound side is widened.

“What we would be looking at is adding two west-bound lanes between Park Avenue and 244th, and this would be able to carry that additional traffic that we are forecasting in the future,” Nedrow said.

The widening project could coincide with a new bridge being built over the White River, downstream from the current bridge, and using the new west-bound lanes to siphon traffic away from the current bridge.

“There is no expectation out of the study to replace the current steel structure,” Nedrow said. “There is the idea that we are recommending that, over time, we will look at adding an additional structure to the downstream side of the White River.”

Nedrow said there is no established timeline for securing funding or starting projects at this time.

After the two open houses, Nedrow and his team will work on finalizing their report on the survey by the end of the year.

“It’s a report that says here’s what we’ve done, here’s what we’ve found out, here are the strategies that could assist in relieving the congestion, and of course it will have some estimates of planning level costs as well as next steps to the process from the planning stage,” which is used by state legislators to put together a financial plan, Nedrow said.

The report, as well as any addition updates about SR 410 improvements, will be made public on the DOT’s website at www.wsdot.wa.gov/planning/studies/sr-410/234th-avenue- garrett-street-corridor-study.

CLARIFICATION: The print version of this article stated the DOT was looking at strategies to “reduce the highway’s efficiency.” It has been corrected to read “increase the highway’s efficiency.”


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