In 2010, two big, new changes were proposed to ease substantial traffic congestion on Olympia’s west side. A second look in 2015 revealed a new solution at half the cost, saving the City $40 million.
Currently, just one key interchange serves west Olympia, a regional shopping and services destination with a hospital, bustling commercial activity and varying residential districts. The proposed plan includes two additional access ramps off U.S. 101 and one new on ramp to give travelers alternate options and more direct routes.
“The intersection of Black Lake Boulevard and Cooper Point Road is regularly, significantly congested,” said Jean Carr, senior vice president at SCJ Alliance. “Connecting people directly to Kaiser Road and Yauger Way would ease a lot of that tension, and the cost difference our team realized could be a deciding factor to push the project forward.”
In 2015 SCJ — in collaboration with Parametrix, the City and other key stakeholders — reanalyzed the original design concept and came up with a way to achieve the same results for half the price. “That kind of savings is a game-changer for a project like this,” said Jean. “Better access is critical to this part of town, but cost is always a factor.”
SCJ’s transportation design group conducted an alternatives analysis using WSDOT’s Least Cost Planning principles. This resulted in a plan that keeps the original connection points, but eliminates a bridge structure that was proposed in 2010.
The team also led preparation of traffic operations and safety analysis, completed an Interchange Justification Report, and managed public outreach and stakeholder coordination efforts for the project.
Regarding what comes next, Jean shared, “The next step is to identify and obtain the additional right of way needed for the project and secure funding for preparation of final design plans and construction.” The City plans to seek grants and other funding sources to complete the project.