Pierce Prairie Post

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What are those? Cameras?

PARKLAND, WA — You may have been noticing the construction around 112th Street and Pacific Avenue in DSC_2571Parkland lately. In the course of the changes in the underground utilities and the sidewalk disruption, several cameras appeared at the intersection. First, on the northbound lanes of Pacific; now, facing the eastbound lanes of 112th Street.

Our first email to the Washington State Department of Transportation resulted in a complete denial, but that was when we refered to them as traffic cameras. A phone call netted better results. You cannot call them cameras, you have to call them traffic sensors. They are the same as those big plates that used to be underneath the roadbed sensing cars stacking up for the signal. They also sense the emergency vehicles passing through.

Now the sensors are mounted on the bar with the signal light itself. Apparently it is far more cost effective because they don’t require digging up the roadway to repair and don’t have to be repaired when the roadway is being disrupted.

There are no red light traffic cameras in the unincorporated county, but do watch yourself in Tacoma on Pacific and 72nd.


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Interim traffic signal system to be installed at 94th Avenue East and 144th Street East

Work to install an interim traffic signal system and street lighting at the 94th Avenue East and 144th Street East intersection in South Hill will begin Jan. 20. Currently, the intersection is configured as a four-way stop.

Work is expected to be complete by mid-March. Motorists can expect intermittent delays, as there will be alternating one-way traffic at times. Motorists should use alternate routes when possible.

The interim traffic signal system is being installed to improve traffic flow through the intersection while funding is obtained for a project to widen the roadway between 136th Street East and 147th Street East. The permanent signal system is not expected to be installed until 2022.

RW Scott Construction of Auburn is the contractor. The construction cost is approximately $217,300. The project is funded through Traffic Impact Fees and County Road Funds.

A project webpage is available here.


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Pierce County receives $2.16 million for road safety projects

Pierce County will receive $2.16 million in federal highway safety improvement funds to fund five road safety projects.

Pierce County is among 46 agencies across Washington that will receive more than $48 million in federal highway safety improvement funds, according to a Jan. 8 announcement by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“These funds will allow us to make important road safety improvements for our motorists and pedestrians,” said Brian Ziegler, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities director.

Project details Pierce County received funding for five projects that will result in safety improvements in multiple locations around the county.

Design on three of the projects is expected to begin in June, followed by environmental permitting. Construction contracts for the projects are expected to be awarded by September 2016, with the work expected to be completed by November 2017. The projects include:

  • The addition of guardrails and guardrail reflectors along sections of the Key Peninsula Highway, Alder Cutoff Road East, and Waller Road East. Pierce County received $485,080 in federal funds, and will contribute $8,820 in county road funds.
  • The addition of guardrails, guardrail reflectors, centerline rumble strips, and safety edges along sections of Rhodes Lake Road East, Orting Kapowsin Highway East, Sumner-Buckley Highway East, Sehmel Drive Northwest, and Mathias Road East. Pierce County received $562,770 in federal funds, and will contribute $10,230 in county road funds.
  • The addition of driver feedback signs that display travel speeds and guardrail reflectors along 218th Avenue East. Pierce County received $138,380 in federal funds, and will contribute $2,520 in county road funds.

For the fourth project, Pierce County will install lighting, ramps that are accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, median refuge islands, and rectangular rapid flashing beacons that indicate a pedestrian is in the crosswalk at the intersection at Military Road South and Bresemann Boulevard South. The project will be funded with $206,100 in federal funds and $22,900 in county road funds.

Design is expected to begin in October, followed by environmental permitting and right-of-way acquisition. A construction contract is expected to be awarded by October 2018, and the work is expected to be completed by November 2019.

For the final project, Pierce County will install a new traffic signal at 38th Avenue East and 152nd Street East. Pierce County received $769,590 in federal funds, and will contribute $85,510 in county road funds.

Design is expected to begin in October, followed by environmental permitting and right-of-way acquisition. A construction contract is expected to be awarded by October 2019, and the work is expected to be complete by November 2020.


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Ribbon cutting for the 176th Street corridor project

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, Public Works Director Brian Ziegler and Councilman Jim McCune joined Steve Gorchester, Executive Director of the Transportation Improvement Board (Washington State) for the ceremony. 176th residents Shirley and Abe Adams helped cut the ribbon. The Adams live near B Street on 176th. They had an accident coming out of their driveway and Shirley had to be brought back to life a few  years ago. They are celebrating the new improvements.


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New traffic signal configuration goes live Dec. 5 at Orting-Kapowsin Highway and 224th Street East

PIERCE COUNTY, WA — Motorists traveling through the intersection of Orting-Kapowsin Highway and TrafficSignal224th Street East will notice a new traffic signal configuration starting Friday, Dec. 5.

The signal in the eastbound direction on 224th Street East now includes a flashing yellow arrow, which allows motorists to turn left through the intersection if there are adequate gaps between oncoming vehicles. The addition of the flashing yellow arrow improves the capacity of the intersection, while allowing flexibility for drivers to continue making a left-hand turn during the flashing yellow arrow portion of the signal.

“While we have been trying out flashing yellow arrows at various locations over the past year, this signal configuration is different in that the flashing yellow arrow and solid yellow arrow share the middle section in a three-section signal head,” said Rory Grindley, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities traffic engineer. “The new configuration was recently permitted for use on a trial basis by the Federal Highway Administration, and Pierce County is one of the first in the state to have received formal permission to install it.”

The typical flashing yellow arrow is located between the solid yellow light and the green light in a four-section traffic signal head.

This change is the latest in a series of minor safety improvements Pierce County has completed at the intersection, which also include restriping the west leg of the intersection to add an eastbound left-turn pocket.

Pierce County previously installed flashing yellow arrow traffic signals at Gem Heights Drive East and 184th Street East, 94th Avenue East and 136th Street East, and Woodland Avenue East and 128th Street East.


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Celebrate completion of 176th Street East corridor with Dec. 10 ribbon cutting

Government officials are inviting Pierce County residents to celebrate the completion of a series of projects along the 176th Street East corridor between B Street East and State Route 161 with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Dec. 10.

The ceremony kicks off at 10:30 a.m. at the Central Pierce Fire & Rescue Station No. 60, 17520 22nd Ave. E in Tacoma.

Up to 25,000 vehicles per day travel the176th Street East corridor near the intersection of 176th Street East and Canyon Road East. In 1989, the traffic count was about 8,000 at that same location.

Crews completed the corridor in six major segments that spanned more than 6 miles. Over the years, the county widened portions of the roadway to add additional lanes, installed new lights and traffic signals, and added sections of sidewalks and medians, among other improvements.

“The improvements will increase capacity, relieve traffic congestion, aid the movement of freight and goods, and contribute to public safety by adding sidewalks, lighting and traffic signals,” said Brian Ziegler, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities director. “We are pleased with the results of 18 years of effort by our employees, partners and contractors.”

Design work on the corridor began in 1996, while construction began in 2003. Major work on the final project – from B Street East to 14th Avenue East – is expected to be complete this winter, with some minor work expected through the early spring. Pierce County will also make final improvements to the intersection of 78th Avenue East and 176th Street East in 2015 after ongoing coordination with environmental regulatory agencies is complete.

The work on the completed projects cost a combined $71.2 million. Funding came from a combination of traffic impact fees, Transportation Improvement Board funds, County Road Funds, real estate excise taxes and bonds, and developer funds (State Environmental Policy Act mitigation contributions).

Corridor highlights

The 176th Street East corridor is one of several arterials around the county that has been upgraded to include curbs, gutters and sidewalks to allow expanded access for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Also, crews installed pervious concrete sidewalks and shoulders from B Street East to 14th Avenue East to reduce surface water runoff. This is the first time Pierce County has used pervious concrete on the shoulders of an arterial roadway.

The county also constructed a new railroad crossing bridge just west of Canyon Road East. Workers removed the old two-lane bridge and built the new bridge during a four-month road closure.

Finally, road workers added raised medians to the roadway to increase safety, control access to businesses, and improve traffic flow. The medians have a combination of drought tolerant plants and hardscape features, and also include depressed curbs to accommodate fire and aid vehicle cross over.

Ceremony details Speakers at the ribbon cutting ceremony include Brian Ziegler, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, Councilmember Jim McCune of District 3, and Transportation Improvement Board Executive Director Steve Gorcester.

Remarks will be made inside the fire station, and the ribbon cutting will be held in front of the station along 176th Street East. Parking is limited at the fire station. Attendees are encouraged to carpool.


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Celebrate new storm drain waste processing facility with Dec. 3 ribbon cutting

Pierce County will celebrate the completion of a new facility that processes roadside storm drain waste with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Pierce County Central Maintenance Facility, 4812 196th St. E in Spanaway.

The waste processing facility, which is located adjacent to the Central Maintenance Facility, will allow the county to separate, process, reuse and dispose of liquid and solid waste generated when county road crews clean catch basins, ditches and drainage pipes located in unincorporated Pierce County. The facility, which is expected to be completed in late November, has a footprint of approximately two-and-a-half acres.

Speakers at the ceremony include Deputy Executive Kevin Phelps; Pierce County Councilmember Jim McCune of District 3; Brian Ziegler, Public Works and Utilities director; Bruce Wagner, Public Works and Utilities road operations manager; and Doug Howie, Washington State Department of Ecology engineer.

“This facility will increase our capacity for processing storm drain waste, and be more cost effective and efficient as it is located at the home base for most of our Road Operations staff,” Wagner said. “It is also in an area where most of our storm drains are located.”

Storm drain waste will be transported from job sites back to the new facility in vactor trucks, which will be emptied into the facility and processed. The resulting processed water will be used to wash maintenance trucks, while the solid waste will be reused as a soil amendment or transported to a solid waste facility.

Road crews clean roadside storm drainage facilities six months of the year. Unincorporated Pierce County is home to approximately 21,700 catch basins, 1,200 miles of ditch, and 550 miles of drainage pipes.

General Mechanical, Inc. was the project contractor, and KPFF Consulting Engineers was the project engineer. Construction cost approximately $1.6 million, and was funded by a $750,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology and $837,914 in Pierce County Road Funds.

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