This is a day in age when any day you bring out a shovel is a good day, said Renton Mayor Denis Law at the kickoff of a much- anticipated .
When completed, the project will connect SW 27th Street with Strander Boulevard to create an east/west link between Renton and Tukwila. The new road will provide an additional route to I-405 between I-5 and SR-167 and improved access to the Sounder commuter rail from the east to support the use of Sounder, Amtrak, , and other mass transit modes.
While the project has been “actively 10 years in the making,” the initial idea “has been around conceptually since 1985,” said Greg Zimmerman, Renton Public Works Administrator.
Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Director Bob Drewel said the Council first earmarked funding for the connection in 1993. Nearly a decade later, all funding has been secured for the $16.5 million project.
Law called the connection “vitally important” and hopes the connection will further development in the valley and Longacre site.
Tukwila Mayor Jim Haggerton was excited to finally break ground on the 27th Street connection with Strander Boulevard, but disappointed that the project partners were unable to reach an agreement with the Union Pacific Railroad to further extend the connection to reach West Valley Highway. Still, Haggerton has hope for the next phase.
“We tried to work with Union Pacific,” he said. “We will not give up on that.”
This phase will greatly improve public transit; however, an agreement must be made with Union Pacific to reach the next phase, and thus make the route functional for freight transportation, said Karen Schmidt, Executive Director of the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board.
Schmidt described the connection as “dead in the water” multiple times. However, teamwork, partnerships and perseverance continually revived the project and allowed the connection to come to fruition.
"The project is important for the region because it increases transit access and, in the long-run, will provide critical freight mobility improvements for the Green River Valley. It's a delight to see progress and results from the partnership that made this possible," said Bob Drewel, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Regional Council.
“I could write a book on this,” Zimmerman joked. “There have been all sorts of starts and stops.”
The next phase, pending an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad and an additional $27-40 million in funding, would be a two or four-lane connection to West Valley Highway via an under or overpass to allow access across the Union Pacific tracks.
The planning involved multiple agencies including the City of Renton, City of Tukwila, Washington State Transportation Improvement Board, U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, WSDOT, Sound Transit, Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, BNSF Railway Company and The Boeing Company.