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Connector road to link Lewis Main, McChord

Northwest Guardian

Published: 04:57PM June 26th, 2014
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Danielle Gregory/Northwest Guardian

In preparation for the ground breaking of the joint-base connector in August, construction crews blocked off the commercial gate on Barnes Boulevard at JBLM McChord Field.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord service members and civilians who commute between McChord Field and Lewis Main have something to be excited about: construction is underway on a new road and overpass connecting Lewis Main and McChord Field. Crews started clearing trees last month for the $9 million connector road, a federally funded military-construction project approved in 2010.

Although the project has been years in the making, construction is estimated to be completed in a single year — by July 2015.

Crews started clearing the area, blocking access to the South Gate Road commercial-vehicle gate on McChord Field and directing traffic onto Lincoln Drive, which is temporarily a one-lane, shared road.

Once the two-lane highway and overpass are complete, the road will connect Lincoln Drive, on the east side of Lewis Main, to Barnes Boulevard, on the south side of McChord Field.

“I think the biggest benefit for everyone will be that it makes a physical connection between the Lewis and McChord cantonment areas,” said Tom Tolman, an architect in the Master Planning Division at the JBLM Directorate of Public Works. “It’s direct, unimpeded access. As we become more and more unified, and we have more reason to go back and forth, it makes that easier to do.”

Although Tolman said the completion of the project will be a huge improvement for everyone — rather than taking Interstate 5 and going through multiple gates — he added this portion of the project is not the end of it; “it’s just Phase 1,” he said.

“We plan on making it an even more high-speed road and quicker route,” Tolman said. “To do that we need to keep pushing to that second phase.”

Tolman said that “second phase” includes adding lanes and straightening out the route; making the connector even faster and easier to access. But these additions are many years into the future.

The speed limit will likely be 40 miles per hour in the fastest areas; or as fast as safety permits, Tolman said.