The photo on the right shows the South 228th Street overpass across the BNSF Railway tracks.

Port Commissioners approve funding for railroad/vehicle grade separation in the valley

$600,000 will go to grade separation project in Kent, easing rail-related congestion

  • Wednesday, May 24, 2017 1:56pm
  • News

Reporter Staff

The Port of Seattle Commission on Tuesday approved transportation funding for Kent’s South 228th Street grade separation (overpass) project that will help traffic flow delayed by railroad crossings.

The project improves regional connections between thousands of businesses, employers and 40 million square feet of warehouse and industrial space, according to a Port news release.

The $595,000 in funding contributes to an overall project cost of $25 million.

“The Port of Seattle recognizes the need to keep freight, and all other traffic, moving throughout our region,” said Commissioner Stephanie Bowman. “Grade separations like these are critical to remove traffic bottlenecks, especially areas in the Kent Valley that handle the second largest freight and cargo volumes on the West Coast.”

The city already built a railroad-grade separation along South 228th at the BNSF Railway tracks. Crews expect to finish the Union Pacific project, with the same style as the BNSF separation of the road going over the tracks, in 2019.

The Legislature approved $15 million for the project as part of the $16 billion transportation package adopted in 2015.

Kent also will use a $3 million federal grant and a $3 million state Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board grant to help pay for the project.

“The success of both the Port of Seattle and the Kent Valley’s robust manufacturing, warehouse and distribution activity depends upon safe, reliable, timely connections to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, and increasingly to Sea-Tac Airport,” said Mayor Suzette Cooke. “Kent’s South 228th Street has been designated as a key freight route, attracting Port customers who value timely access. The elimination of the choke point at the Union Pacific Railroad crossing will help ensure our region’s future as a premier manufacturing and distribution center of world-wide importance.”

The project will include the construction of a bridge; four-lane vehicle crossing; full-width paving; concrete curbs, gutters and sidewalks; bicycle lanes and street lighting. Crews are relocating utilities prior to starting construction of the overpass.

City officials said the full potential of the 228th grade separation will be realized when the state extends State Route 509 from SeaTac to Kent to connect to Interstate 5.

South 228th becomes Veterans Drive up to Military Road South, near where a new freeway interchange will be built. The 509 extension isn’t expected to be completed until 2031, according to the state Department of Transportation.

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