IT opens new Park & Ride lot

mbatcheldor@theolympian.comJanuary 22, 2013 

Thurston County residents have 332 more reasons for carpooling on the Interstate 5 corridor.

Intercity Transit will hold a grand opening Friday for a long-awaited, 332-space Park & Ride lot on a portion of Thurston County’s old dump at 2548 Hogum Bay Road NE. In 2010, Thurston County commissioners approved leasing the Hawks Prairie property to Intercity Transit for $1 per year for 20 years.

Intercity Transit quietly opened the $8.2 million lot late last month, spokeswoman Meg Kester said.

The project included 100,000 tons of gravelly structural fill to stabilize the 8-acre site. A new liner was installed to separate garbage from the lot, and a new system was installed to collect methane gas that’s a byproduct of the trash.

“I think it’s a fantastic use of the landfill property, said Mark Eldridge, regional mobility grant program manager for the state Department of Transportation. He said he’s not aware of another lot that has been built on an old dump.

Eldridge’s department funded $6.5 million of the project, and the remainder came from Intercity Transit.

It will mean 77 percent more Park & Ride spaces for the county. There are now 447 spaces at two other locations — at Martin Way and Interstate 5 Exit 109 and at Centennial Station on Yelm Highway.

The lot will include 10 handicapped spots and five spots with charging stations for electric vehicles. It’s next to the county’s off-leash dog park that opened in 2010, which has earned it the nickname “park and bark.” Intercity Transit has been planning the lot since 2008.

Kester said the lot will serve as a carpool and vanpool spot but won’t have immediate transit access. That’s not in the agency’s budget right now, but the long-range plan is to offer transit access, Kester said.

Drivers have gone without Park & Ride spaces in the Marvin Road area since a lot was closed there in 2004 for commercial development. Meanwhile, troop levels have increased rapidly at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, straining traffic.

“Park & Ride lots are critical to the state transportation system because, essentially they act as an artificial density hub that actually takes advantage of the best features of public transportation,” Eldridge said.

In the first year the lot is open, it’s expected to reduce vehicle trips by 155,400 and the number of miles traveled by 5.2 million, Eldridge said.

He said the state has about 343 such lots, of which 130 are owned by the Department of Transportation. With the addition of the latest lot, the department has a stake in 5,000 Park & Ride spaces.

If you go

The public is invited to a grand opening for Intercity Transit’s new Park & Ride lot from noon-1 p.m. Friday at the lot, 2548 Hogum Bay Road, off Marvin Road in Hawks Prairie.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com @MattBatcheldor

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