Interstate 705 is a short freeway spur connecting Interstate 5, the main north-south Interstate stretching with two major activity centers - Downtown Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma.
Project Type:Connector Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:62,200 Length (mi):1.50
Economic Distress:0.89 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):716 Population Growth Rate (%):1.14
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.97 Market Size:236,316 Airport Travel Distance:4.68333 Topography:21
Region:Rocky Mountain / Far West State:TX County:County
City:Tacoma Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:Tacoma
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:47.250716 / -122.465635
Initial Study Date:1989 Post Constr. Study Date:2000
Constr. Start Date:1982 Constr. End Date:1988
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 1988 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):102,300,000 Actual Cost (curr $):221,482,352
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||413.31||400.91||814.22|
|Output (in $M's)||1061.20||1029.36||2090.56|
Interstate 705 is a 1.5-mile long freeway spur built between 1982 and 1988. It connects Interstate 5 with downtown Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma. The building of the I-705 connector from I-5 has served a dual purpose. It has catalyzed the revitalization of downtown Tacoma, a success that has received national attention, and it has supported substantial growth at the Port of Tacoma, a significant economic generator in the Puget Sound region. The revitalization of Tacoma is a complex effort that has included environmental clean-up, reclaiming the waterfront from the railroads, and providing quicker and more reliable access to downtown Tacoma. The improved accessibility combined with cleaner waterways and significant waterfront improvements has resulted in significant new development in the center of Tacoma along the I-705 corridor, and has integrated the city into the robust economy of the Puget Sound boom. Container traffic at the Port of Tacoma has more than doubled since the completion of I-705. An estimated 7,400 jobs are attributable to the project.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
I-705 runs through the center of the City of Tacoma and is flanked by downtown Tacoma to the West and the Foss Waterway and the Port of Tacoma to the east. It is a 1.5 mile Interstate Highway connecting I-5 to downtown Tacoma and the Schuster Parkway in the north. An iconic cable-stayed bridge, completed in 1997, on SR 509 crosses the Foss Waterway, links I-705 with the Port of Tacoma. The Port of Tacoma manufacturing/industrial center is served by a multi-modal transportation network, including highways and transcontinental rail lines that provide dockside access as well as ingress and egress to I-5.
Via I-705 and I-5, Seattle is a 40 minute drive from downtown Tacoma, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is only 30 minutes away during off-peak travel periods.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The Puget Sound region is one of the faster-growing large metropolitan areas in the United States. The City of Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma have historically been and remain important contributors to population and economic growth in the region.
Approximately 202,000 residents live within the City of Tacoma's 50 square miles. As an older, space-constrained port city, Tacoma depends on in-fill development and redevelopment for growth. The I-705 Connector and a new light rail line (Tacoma Link) both support the commercial and residential growth of the densest parts of the City. Approximately 103,000 jobs are located within the City, including 44,000 workers in downtown Tacoma and 11,000 workers in marine-related activities at the Port of Tacoma, both adjacent to the I-705 Connector.
The number of jobs in Pierce County increased 40 % between 1990 and 2007 compared to a 35 % increase for the State of Washington as a whole. In the decade previous to the completion of the I-705 Connector, Pierce County's jobs growth was slower than the State's. The areas of central Tacoma served by I-705 (downtown and the Port of Tacoma) have shared in this job growth since completion of the interstate spur. Between 1994 and 2000, central Tacoma accounted for 9.7 % (or 3,177) of net new jobs added to the county's employment base. This increased to 16.0 % (4,447) during the 2000-2006 period. The City of Tacoma's population increased by 14 % between 1990 and 2007, a slower rate than either Pierce County (35%) or the State of Washington (33%), but a higher rate than many other U.S. port cities. For example, the California cities of Oakland and Long Beach grew by only 8 % and 9 %, respectively, over the 17 year period. High technology and the expansion of the port have helped stimulate job growth in Tacoma.
The motivation for I-705 was to provide Interstate access to downtown Tacoma, over one mile away from I-5, the principal north-south Interstate on the West Coast and the most important highway for navigating the Puget Sound region. I-705 provided a limited-access alternative to SR-509 and Pacific Street, formerly the main route for reaching downtown Tacoma from I-5. The SR-509/Pacific Street arterial was congested and not easily navigable, providing poor access to downtown. Because the downtown was perceived as difficult to reach, public, private, and institutional investors declined to invest in the area.
I-705 was first proposed in the 1970's . Construction began in 1982 and it was completed in 1988 at a cost of $102.3 million.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
In the 1980's, SR 509 handled about 20,000 to 25,000 vehicles per day traveling between Downtown Tacoma and I-5. I-705 opened in late 1988 and by 1990 it was handling an average of 40,200 vehicles per day. Traffic growth on I-705 averaged about 2.5 % per year during the 1990-2008 period, reaching 62,200 daily vehicles in 2008. Traffic peaked in 2002, with over 66,000 vehicles per day. Higher fuel prices and the 2003 opening of Tacoma Link, which carries 3,900 riders per day, have contributed to lower traffic volumes on I-705 since 2002.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Once derided, the City of Tacoma is now experiencing stronger population, jobs, and commercial growth, like much of the Puget Sound region. I-705 created the necessary conditions for the cultural and economic revitalization of Tacoma's central commercial and industrial areas. Without the improved access provided by I-705, the redevelopment of Tacoma would not have occurred or would have been much more limited in scope. A series of infrastructure projects, including Tacoma Link and the rehabilitation of the waterfront, combined with new commercial, residential, and institutional development, has transformed central Tacoma into a destination for businesses, students, and tourists. Adjacent to I-705, there is a revitalized industrial waterfront with the modern Washington State History Museum, University of Washington-Tacoma campus, a glass museum, and Tacoma's commercial district, featuring a dense concentration of revitalized historic buildings. All of these destinations are accessed by I-705 and Tacoma Link. The value of investment in downtown Tacoma since the completion of I-705 is conservatively estimated to be about $1.5 billion.
According to area economic development officials, I-705 is a crucial factor that has affected the decisions of residents and businesses to live in or locate in central Tacoma. A convenient, reliable connection to I-5 is essential for mobility, and I-705 has removed perceptions that downtown Tacoma is difficult to reach from Seattle, Olympia, and SeaTac International Airport. Investment levels in downtown Tacoma have increased markedly since the I-705 Connector opened in 1988. According to a tabulation of major public and private projects compiled by the City of Tacoma, $150 million was invested in downtown Tacoma in the 1980's. This increased to $671 million in the 1990's and reached $809 million between 2000 and 2008. The nature of investment in the downtown is also changing, with much higher levels of private investment taking place since 2000. Land values in Tacoma's waterfront redevelopment district (along the Thea Foss Waterway running parallel with I-705) reflect these changes, increasing from $10.90 per square foot in 1999 to $38.72 per square foot in 2007. (Intensive redevelopment of the waterfront began several years after I-705 opened).
The Port of Tacoma describes I-705 as "extremely helpful" to their operations. Trucks traveling north on I-5 can reach the port via I-705 and SR-509. I-705 augments the competitiveness of the Port of Tacoma by providing an additional access point to the port from I-5. In effect, this adds to capacity, reduces congestion, and increases roadway reliability by dispersing truck traffic between the port and I-5 onto three routes (I-705, Port of Tacoma Road, and Taylor Way). The I-705/SR-509 approach to the port has few conflicts, unlike the other two routes which include at-grade intersections with adjoining strip retail development. I-705 is also favored by military shipments to/from the Port of Tacoma, and provides access to a new Evergreen container facility completed in 2005. Ports worldwide, including the Port of Tacoma, compete to attract shipping companies and transportation access (both highway and rail) is essential to attracting or retaining port tenants. Productivity is measured in minutes and shipping companies consider ?time to market? (the length of time required for a product to reach a consumer) when evaluating ports. In Tacoma, I-705 combined with other infrastructure improvements has reduced time to market and boosted transportation reliability, translating into productivity gains and cost savings for shippers. Between 1990 and 2008, the number of containers handled by the Port of Tacoma more than doubled, from 937,000 to 1.9 million.
An estimated 7,400 new jobs are attributable to the project between 1990 and 2006. I-705 is viewed as the catalyst that made redevelopment of the downtown possible. I-705 also played an essential role in the development of the port.
Numerous public investments have followed the construction of I-705, all of them important contributors to Tacoma's economic growth. The Tacoma waterfront along the Thea Foss Waterway is a recent success story for the center city. While I-705 provides access to the project, the development of the area would not have been possible without a massive cleanup of the channel that had been part of an EPA designated Superfund site. Tacoma Link, the light rail line, has also been a factor in improving access to downtown Tacoma, providing people with an alternative to driving between major activity centers in the area. Iconic architecture, including the renovation of Union Station, a modern suspension bridge, a colorful pedestrian "bridge of glass" crossing I-705, and several new museum buildings, have also helped to distinguish downtown Tacoma.
I-705 was one part of many other investments that have helped to support rising freight volumes at the Port of Tacoma. New infrastructure on SR 509, including a new cable-stayed bridge crossing the Thea Foss Waterway, was also required to bring truck traffic from I-5 (via I-705) to parts of the port. In addition to the roadway access improvements, waterside capacity at the Port of Tacoma was expanded by demolishing an obsolete drawbridge and dredging a waterway?both necessary to bring greater numbers of larger ships into the port. These infrastructure investments enabled the Port of Tacoma?to undertake major improvements and expansions at its portside facilities, giving it the capacity to handle increasing volumes of trade and compete with other large ports.
Port of Tacoma
City of Tacoma
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