FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cross-Base Highway Dropped From Transit Package
Regional Transit Board votes to drop Cross-Base Highway from roads package slated to go to voters this fall
Today the Cross-Base Highway Coalition, a diverse group of business owners, local and national environmental organizations, and citizen groups turned out in force to support the Regional Transportation Investment District’s (RTID) decision to remove the Cross-Base Highway from the list of road projects that will go before voters this fall.
The RTID board met to discuss the final package today, which excludes the highly controversial Cross-Base Highway from the list of road projects, and instead will fund improvements to existing key roads and intersections in South Pierce County. The alternative route will alleviate traffic problems, support economic growth and employment in the Frederickson Industrial Area, and avoid bisecting the best and largest fragment of oak-woodland prairie left in western Washington.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service believes that the remaining South Puget Sound prairies may be possibly the rarest habitat in North America, home to at least 29 species of federal and/or state threatened, endangered, candidate and sensitive plant and animal species of concern, 18 of would have been in the immediate vicinity of the proposed Cross-Base Highway.
“The leadership demonstrated by Chair Shawn Bunney and the RTID board today in providing an alternative to the Cross-Base Highway is a win-win for Pierce County and our environment,” said Dave Werntz, Science and Conservation Director for Conservation Northwest. “Now it’s up to Pierce County Executive Ladenburg to approve this solution at the county level, so we can all move forward,” he added.
“The Cross-Base Highway didn’t even meet RTID’s mission statement,” said Tanja Oliver, a Lakewood resident and business owner. She added, “Now Lakewood residents won’t have to stare at a ten foot noise wall in our backyards.”
Executive Director of Tahoma Audubon Society Bryan Flint said, “Keeping the cross-base on the list was a real threat to passage in November, and the alternative proposed today protects investments in Highway 167 for the Port of Tacoma and the 80,000 new jobs that key project will produce.”
Pierce County councilmember and retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Dick Muri also praised the proposed RTID package, stating, “RTID leaders recognized the need to protect Pierce County’s number one and two employers – Ft. Lewis and McChord, from the encroachment that the Cross-Base Highway represents. My constituents on the military bases are overwhelmingly against the cross-base, and this is very good news indeed.”
The Cross-Base Highway’s formal environmental reviews were all given “Inadequate” ratings by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Last November, the Cross-Base Highway Coalition, represented by Bricklin, Newman & Dold, filed a formal notice of plans to file a lawsuit challenging the Cross-Base Highway for violations of the Endangered Species Act and other federal environmental laws. Coalition members intend to pursue the lawsuit should the Cross- Base Highway remain in the package.
Cross-Base Highway Coalition members could not support a package that included the Cross-Base Highway, and would have actively campaigned against any package that supported it.
For more information, visit: www.crossbasehighway.org