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Ribbon cut on Southwest 27th Street extension, provides access to Sounder station from Renton
After 12 years of work and $22 million, the City of Renton on Tuesday officially cut the ribbon on their half of the Southwest 27th Street/Strander Boulevard Extension project.
While the Tukwila half of the project is still awaiting funding, making the full connection between the two cities a goal for the future, the new roadway opens up the Tukwila Sounder Station to Renton through 27th, off of Oakesdale in the city's southern industrial section.
The new RapidRide F-Line, connecting The Landing in Renton to the Burien Transit Center also makes a stop at the Tukwila Sounder Station.
Joking that it was his "favorite project since [he] first got on the council," Renton Mayor Denis Law said it was "exciting day for Renton" and a "milestone."
"By completing this project we connect Southwest 27th Street in Renton to the Sounder commuter rail station in Tukwila," he said in prepared remarks. "This access to transit also provides an alternative to I-405 between I-5 and SR167, one of the most congested stretches of highway in our state."
The mayor also joked that the other benefit of the event was that Tukwila Mayor Jim Haggerton "had to drive all the way around instead of punching through."
Haggerton, who was on hand for the ribbon cutting, said the "funds just weren't available" for Tukwila to complete their side of the project, but that Tukwila has applied for a TIGER Grant of $20 million from the federal government.
Haggerton said that he and a handful of Tukwila City Council members visited Washington, D.C., in May to encourage lawmakers to support the grant. If received, the money would pay for more than half of the $37 million estimated to complete the project.
Renton Public Works Administrator Gregg Zimmerman called the connector "the most difficult project I've ever been engaged in" because of all the stops, starts and difficulty involved in the project, including crossing two sets of railroad tracks.
"Railroad undercrossings are not inexpensive," he said, calling the project "a bit snakebit."
Zimmermann said the city's contribution to the funding was about $6 million, though that includes extensive design work prior to construction when the city attempted to find a way to move one set of railroad tracks closer to the second so a single undercrossing could be built.
Ultimately, the tracks were not moved and are now part of the reason the Tukwila side will be so expensive to complete.
The Renton side of the project was a collaboration between the City, the City of Tukwila, the Boeing Company, BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, Sound Transit, the State of Washington, including the Transportation Improvement Board, Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board and the Washington State Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Zimmerman said the hope is to eventually connect the two sides f the project and then link it to state Route 167 to the east, creating an east-west corridor across the valley.
Law said even without a full east-west route, the new new road opens up some of the underdeveloped land in the valley for a potential "major employer" looking for a location with easy access for workers.
"This will be very good for Renton citizens," he said, adding "It's going to be a big deal to developers."