Burley-Olalla interchange moved up another year

For the second time since it was added to the state Nickel Transportation package in 2003, work on the Burley-0lalla/State-Route 16 Interchange has been moved up, placing completion a full two years ahead of its original schedule.

Marty Garman, budget program director for Washington State Department of Transportation’s Olympic Region, said according to the transportation budget signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire on Monday, work on the $15.2 million dollar overpass should begin this summer.

“Design work is now scheduled to begin this July, and the project should go to bid in November of 2007,” Garman said.

That timeline represents a two-year acceleration of the project — it was already moved up a year during the 2004 supplemental session — and puts the expected completion date in late 2009, about the time bids were to be collected in the first schedule.

Once built, the overpass will mean residents will no longer have to cross four lanes of highway traffic to travel between the communities of Burley and Olalla, which SR-16 divides. It will also mean the intersection will lose its dubious distinction of being the last intersection between Tacoma and Gorst with traffic that crosses the highway median, and hopefully its High Accident Location(HAL) label, as well.

Because of the numerous accidents that have occurred there in the past and the potential for more, reducing the dangerousness of the section has been on the WSDOT’s to-do list for years.

Last year, a $1.3 million-dollar interim fix — that many residents feared would spell doom for a permanent one — was completed by WSDOT. Designed to prevent the most dangerous movements across the highway, the work included adding signs and striping warning drivers that dashing across the highway or certain left turns were no longer allowed.

The fix also added an acceleration lane (westbound Burley-Olalla to Tacoma), lengthened the deceleration lane (Bremerton to eastbound Burley-Olalla) and improves the existing right turn corner (northbound SR 16 to eastbound Burley-Olalla) with minor widening and the addition of a painted traffic island.

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