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Posted on: August 6, 2012

Pentagon approves $5.7 million for Freedom Bridge improvements

Monday Aug 06 2012 4:15 PM

The Pentagon has approved a $5.7 million grant for the City of Lakewood to improve the Freedom Bridge overpass, which will alleviate congestion and improve public safety for people accessing Madigan Army Medical Center.

The grant was announced Monday, Aug. 6, by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and his department's Office of Economic Adjustment.

Improvements will include an additional eastbound ramp to the bridge, a second left-turn lane to the I-5 southbound off-ramp, upgrades to traffic signs and additional pedestrian facilities for increased public safety.

"Knowing that the Department of Defense recognizes how critical investments are to addressing these issues affirms its commitment to this community and to the people affected by the immense growth on and around the base," said Congressman Adam Smith (9th District). "I'm proud to be a part of the effort to secure this funding and look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure proper coordination so the improvements can be completed within a timely manner. Making sure we have the infrastructure in place to improve access and ease congestion around Madigan Gate and I-5 continues to be at the top of our agenda."

The Freedom Bridge improvements are among the priorities addressed by the South Sound Military and Communities Partnership (SSMCP), a consortium designed to coordinate the response to dramatic growth at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"The residents of the South Sound are very pleased the DoD and OEA have provided $5.7 million in critical access and improved traffic flow project funding along the I-5 corridor," said Lakewood Mayor Doug Richardson, a co-chair of the Partnership. "WSDOT and the City of Lakewood worked together as members of the South Sound Military and Communities Partnership to apply for these vital infrastructure dollars. They will provide substantial steps forward in addressing congestion and safety in the South Sound."

Funding for the project is provided under the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 and will be completed as a joint effort between the Washington State Department of Transportation, the City of Lakewood and the Command at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"These necessary improvements will benefit everyone by increasing safety and helping to alleviate congestion," said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, the Partnership's other co-chair. "This is another success for the Partnership's collaborative effort to serve our service members, veterans and neighbors. I look forward to working with the City of Lakewood and the Washington State Department of Transportation to get these critical projects moving."

Earlier this year, the Partnership secured $6.95 million in the Washington state budget to start the planning for improvements to five interchanges along Interstate 5 in Pierce and Thurston counties. More information about these and other projects can be found at http://jblm-growth.com.

Robert Thoms, South Sound Military and Communities Partnership(253) 307-8422robthoms@gmail.com

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