Changes in the economy and the population of western Washington over the past 20 years have created an opportunity for Lewis County. The wealth of resources the county as to offer, especially to industries that find it hard to operate in more urban counties, makes it a prime location for industrial growth.
The County is making plans for the north Lewis County / south Thurston County area to stimulate private investment in industrial development, leading to a new generation of family-wage jobs and economic strength.
Part of the plan is improving access to industrially-zoned lands, providing the freight mobility necessary for industrial growth. SCJ is leading the planning study for that portion.
“The expertise needed for this project is extensive, and our diverse transportation group is well-suited for the job,” said SCJ Principal Eric Johnston.
That breadth of experience is what SCJ’s Transportation Planning Manager, Thera Black, is counting on as she leads the ongoing effort.
“SCJ’s experience in practical design, Interchange Justification Reports, and traffic analysis ensures our recommendations will satisfy state and federal requirements for subsequent follow-up work,” she said. “Our years of partnership with the Washington Department of Transportation enable us to anticipate WSDOT and Federal Highway Administration needs and incorporate them into the project from the very start.”
Thera added, “Our ability to partner effectively with other firms creates a seamless project management platform, resulting in clear, efficient communication with our client, Lewis County. Also, our experience in planning and public outreach allows us to reflect the needs and character of the community and be successful both quickly and long-term.”
With the project area on the county line, the groups invested in both the process and outcome are nearly double:
- Two counties
- Two regional planning agencies
- Two WSDOT regions
- Cities from both Lewis and Thurston counties
- Numerous economic development entities
- Private sector interests
- Headquarters of both the WSDOT and the FHWA
- The Chehalis Tribe
“Because of the number of entities interested,” Thera said, “SCJ is creating a robust, stakeholder-driven process with strong community engagement and easy-to-understand information. We want to ensure all our stakeholders identify not just a strategy they can accept, but one they will champion and carry forward.”
And that seems to be already coming to fruition with people from diverse agencies wanting to stay involved for the next couple decades to see it through. Eric said, “What started as a project has become a partnership.”