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City of Fife Breaks Ground on Its Largest Public Works Contract

The groundbreaking kicks off the first two-year phase of the construction project to reduce congestion at Port of Tacoma Road and I-5. Photo courtesy of the Port of Tacoma.

On 18 July 2018, the City of Fife broke ground on Phase 1 of a major construction project at the Interstate 5 (I-5)/Port of Tacoma Road interchange. The two-part, $42.5 million construction project aims to speed traffic between the Port of Tacoma and I-5.

City of Fife staff and local government representatives attended the groundbreaking. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee was among those who addressed the crowd at the celebration. “Today I get to say, ‘If you want to improve your life, build a road to Fife,’” Inslee said. “And by improving lives in this regard, if anybody asked you what this road connection is, it’s a road to jobs.”

Currently, trucks at Port of Tacoma Road and Pacific Highway East create a bottleneck. An estimated 10,000 trucks cross this intersection per day. Phase 1 of the project will reconstruct and convert 34th Avenue East to a northbound connection from I-5 and widen 12th Street East to four lanes. Phase 1 is scheduled for completion in 2020. Design on Phase 2 will include a new bridge over the freeway from 34th South to 20th Street East and reconfigured northbound ramps. Phase 2 will also take two years to construct.

BergerABAM is the lead consultant on both phases of the project. The project team looked at 12 alternatives before selecting this design as the most cost-effective and most efficient at moving traffic. It also minimizes impacts during construction by keeping the existing interchange open. The design process included an extensive screening process to identify necessary improvements to speed up movement of traffic into the Port and improve access, safety, and reliability. The project also included significant public involvement, channelization plans preparation, preliminary right-of-way identification, cost estimating, and phasing plans.

The City of Fife first launched efforts to get this project underway roughly 15 years ago. The groundbreaking marks an important milestone and represents the perseverance and incredible efforts of many individuals, including Russ Blount, City of Fife’s Public Works director. Under his leadership and through years of determined collaboration, the BergerABAM team and City of Fife have been able to make Phase 1 of this critical interchange improvement project come to fruition. This partnership will continue through the design of Phase 2, which will commence later this year.