SR 167 was never finished, now it’s a $2 billion project

Sep 29, 2014, 4:50 AM | Updated: 8:17 am

It has the potential to ease congestion at a series of chokepoints in King and Pierce Counties, and it was supposed to be built 30 years ago.

Highway 167 was never finished.

It was not supposed to dead-end in Puyallup and dump drivers onto Meridian or River Road. It was supposed to go all the way to I-5 in Fife with access to the Port of Tacoma, but construction just stopped. There were concerns over funding and who owned the property.

The state still wants to finish the road, and it has plans for a six-lane freeway, with two general purpose lanes and an HOV lane in each direction.

“It would relieve a lot of the other routes going through Puyallup,” said Craig Stone, assistant secretary for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

This extension would get a lot of trucks off Highway 18 and other neighborhood routes to I-5.

“(It would help) that Peasley Canyon area on Highway 18 where you have the truck-climbing and slow speeds,” he said. “That would help re-balance all that traffic.”

Forty-four percent of the trips on 167 are en route to the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle. This extension would give trucks much better access to I-5.

But like many much-needed projects in Washington, it remains unfunded. It is expected to be a top priority in the legislature, if the legislature ever decides to pass a transportation budget.

“It’s very safe to say that the 167 completion is the number one project in Pierce County,” said Stone. “The elected officials, the businesses, the unions and others down there are very supportive of completing that facility.”

Stone said paying for the project might include tolling the entire four-mile extension or using HOT lanes.

Everything is on the table.

“That’s something that’s still being debated,” Stone said. “We did some feasibility analysis of that, effectively, how do you get an improvement made, how do you bridge that land gap and get that connection there.”

The project has about $160 million in state funds set aside, but that’s barely enough to get started.

The price tag for the entire project is more than $2 billion.

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SR 167 was never finished, now it’s a $2 billion project