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Transportation package offers relief to Auburn drivers

Commuters in South King County and East Pierce County will finally enjoy some congestion relief thanks to the transportation package passed by the Legislature last month. The centerpiece of the entire statewide package is the completion of SR 167, which will finally connect the freeway to Tacoma.

On Monday, I briefed the Auburn City Council on what the Legislature accomplished during the 2015 session, including this transportation package. Afterward, I remarked to the Auburn Reporter:

“Locally, it will help just regular people,” Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, said of the project. “It will help relieve congestion so regular people can get to their work more quickly. But it’s also really important for the state because it will ensure you can get your goods to and from the market a lot faster and cheaper.”

Months ago the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma formed a historical alliance wherein they decided to stop competing against each other but to compete against California and Canada. Both of those ports are making large investments to attract business from Asia that had been coming into Washington ports.

“With the pending widening of the Panama Canal, cities like Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., are investing in their ports to lure more of the West Coast business to go over to the East Coast. That means Washington state is facing national and continental competition that it hasn’t really faced before,” Stokesbary said. “This project is really important to just keep what we have. But if all goes well, we might be able to expand the amount of business that we’re bringing in.”

The package also contains good news for residents of South Auburn or the Enumclaw Plateau, as the Auburn Reporter explains:

As of today, motorists trying to get through Auburn to the Muckleshoot Casino, the White River Amphitheatre, the city of Enumclaw, Mount Rainier or other destinations to the east must all too often fight and claw their way through horribly crowded Auburn streets.

During the busiest hours of the day, automobile agglutination makes that a flat-out pain.

But the new transportation package that passed out of the state Legislature on Tuesday should offer good news for beleaguered Auburnites.

That is, $15 million for a new Highway 18 off-ramp to bypass the aforementioned mess before joining Highway 164 past the casino.

The Muckleshoot Tribe, which owns the old Miles Sand and Gravel Pit. has agreed to donate the land and put some money toward the bypass project.

“The third off-ramp [from Highway 18 in Auburn] should relieve a lot of the pressure that is going out to where I live in south Auburn and definitely to all the folks living out on the Enumclaw Plateau. It will definitely take some of that pressure off of downtown Auburn and a couple miles down the road,” Stokesbary said.

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