Residents want to see action on SR-302 fixes


Danna Webster, KP News

There was no screeching of tires or crashing of bumpers at the April SR- 302 meeting. There was a calm serious resolve among the neighbors to find a means to get the message out that State Route 302 and its “Wauna curves” is a serious hazard. Over two dozen concerned neighbors joined community leaders to seek answers for the troubles of SR-302.

SR-302’s problematic history was provided by Pierce County Councilman Terry Lee and State Rep. Lois McMahan. Lee presented a 10-year overview of the transportation improvement efforts directed toward the Key Peninsula, summarizing that the only results so far include more traffic, more congestion and some deaths. He reported on the effort begun about a year ago known as RTID (Regional Transportation Investment District), a coalition of Pierce, King and Snohomish counties that has developed a regional plan to fund local projects for each of the counties. (Details about RTID and the history of proposals for SR-302 have been covered in detail in the March and April issues of KP News.)

Lois McMahan discussed her commitment for completing the Burley-Olalla interchange, saying she wants it done before the opening of the new bridge across the Tacoma Narrows in 2008. She outlined the political work and efforts made to date for the interchange and credited the Olalla neighbors for making the interchange a Department of Transportation priority. The neighbors filled up their school gymnasium with concerned citizens and kept the interchange on the political front burner. She said that DOT has never forgotten that night at the gymnasium and that they are getting tired of hearing about the problem. This has led to the pending action.

Wauna residents added their observations and concerns for the record. Speed, increased traffic volume and congestion, kids jumping in and out of their cars parked along the Purdy Sandspit, potholes at the boat launch, lack of a comprehensive plan, dangerous passing patterns, and stopping for pedestrians resulting in rear-end accidents were discussed.

From the audience, Jeff Harris, interim president of the Key Peninsula Community Council, explained how the council could become the “citizens’ voice” necessary to make SR- 302 improvements. The Community Council is conducting a needs assessment survey, and will seek input at the Livable Community Fair on May 8 at the Vaughn Civic Center. The results from the survey will determine the actions for the council. McMahan and Lee were supportive of the community council as a viable means to get the attention of elected officials and the Department of Transportation about the dangers of the highway.

To keep the momentum building and gain the awareness of more elected officials, Nancy Lind, a former parks commissioner who arranged the April meeting, volunteered to organize another one with more officials in a few months.