Design work to begin in Kent on South 224th Street extension

Design work will soon begin on extending South 224th Street over Highway 167 and eventually up the East Hill to Benson Road.

The city of Kent has hired a consultant to design and permit part of the 1.8-mile extension of South 224th Street with a bridge over State Highway 167.

The City Council approved last month a $232,138 contract with Seattle-based Shearer Design LLC, according to city documents. The project eventually will extend South 224th Street from the East Valley Highway to Benson Road.

"This will be another connection up the East Hill and take pressure off the James Street hill," said Tim LaPorte, city public works director, in a phone interview.

Kent has received a $5 million grant from the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) for the first portion of the street extension project. The council approved in October a Local Improvement District that will raise about $9.5 million from fees paid by property owners in that district.

"The $5 million grant is an incredible plum," LaPorte said. "We're very, very pleased to get that grant. That's about the largest grant you can get to one agency."

The city will need to get approval from the state for the bridge over Highway 167. LaPorte said construction probably won't start in 2013 but should begin in 2014.

"The consultant will provide structural engineering services for the design of the new bridge and wall structures," according to city staff reports. "This includes the preparation of the plans, specifications and estimate (PS&E) for the SR 167 bridge. The consultant will also assist in obtaining Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and environmental permits to construct the project."

Crews will construct a new three-lane road that will connect East Valley Highway (also known as 84th Avenue South/Central Avenue North) and Benson Road (also known as 108th Avenue Southeast/SR 515).

The project will include new bridges over SR 167 at 224th Street and Garrison Creek along South 218th Street; new curb, sidewalk, planter strips and planted center median where possible; overhead utilities moved underground; and new storm drainage treatment and detention facilities.

Phases of construction of the estimated $30 million street extension include the lower phase of East Valley Highway to 88th Avenue South, including the bridge over Highway 167; the middle phase of 88th Avenue South to Garrison Creek, including a bridge over Garrison Creek; and the upper phase of Garrison Creek to Benson Road.

So far, the city has funding for the first phase.

The council unanimously approved the project in April 2008 in an effort to provide an alternate route between the Kent Valley and East Hill, as well as improve safety on the upper portion of the road where it will replace a narrow street that lacks paved shoulders, sidewalks and a turn lane.

The road will run parallel to Highway 167 on the east side before going up South 218th Street to 98th Avenue South, where it will curve to South 216th Street and then connect to 108th Avenue Southeast.

South 224th Street currently dead ends between a couple of hotels a block east of East Valley Highway and just west of Highway 167.

City officials started to plan for the extension of South 224th Street in the 1980s because of the expected growth in neighborhoods near the street.

LaPorte said the South 228th corridor was one of three east-west corridors planned by the city in the 1980s to move traffic between the West Hill and East Hill through the valley. The other corridors include South 277th Street and South 196th Street.

"The goal of the corridors is to get traffic from the East Hill to 167 and to I-5," LaPorte said.

The completed portions of the 228th corridor include South 231st Way up the West Hill to Military Road as well as the 228th Street railroad-street separation overpass at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks. The city also wants to construct a railroad-street separation along 228th at the Union Pacific tracks.

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