- VALLEY FARMING HISTORY
- SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS
- SEASONAL RETAIL BUSINESS YOU LOVE
- HOW DO THEY SURVIVE?
- SUCCESSES AND FAILURES
- COMMUNITY PLAN
- DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS
- WHAT THE COUNTY MUST DO NEXT
- WHAT YOU CAN DO
FARMING FUTURE THREATENED
BY TRAFFIC*ROUNDABOUTS*ADDITIONAL LANES
- ECONOMIC IMPACTS – Farms will collapse if customers cannot enter or leave farms safely due to heavy traffic conditions, or will avoid the farms altogether due to the heavy traffic congestion.
- OPERATIONAL IMPACTS – traffic volumes and especially roundabouts will prevent farmers to safely move their farm equipment between acreages along the SR162 corridor
- FARMER RESPONSES – farmers are against roundabouts for restricting their equipment movement and for not allowing breaks in traffic (that signals provide) to allow customers access and egress from their farms. They prefer adding the wider shoulders to move wide equipment and a two-way turn lane for safer left turns. Farmers also encourage Pierce County to create alternate corridors to SR162 to include extending 128th St E to South Hill and the Shaw/122nd Ave E corridor improvements.
- ALTERNATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS – In addition to NO ROUNDABOUTS on the SR162 corridor, we have proposed to the WSDOT to add a two-way turn lane and wider shoulders within the current available right-of-ways (reducing costs) from Sumner to Orting. We also have encouraged Pierce County to create another north/south corridor paralleling SR162 on the South Hill plateau by making improvements to the Shaw Road / 122 Ave E corridor.
ROUNDABOUTS ON SR162
- WHY WE CANNOT ALLOW – Roundabouts meter traffic leaving them resulting in a continuous flow of traffic downstream without breaks that allow for access to the highway from farms, businesses and residents. Currently the breaks in traffic from signals are the only way to gain safe entry to SR162. Roundabouts make moving farming equipment dangerous and limit the size of some attachments.
- ECONOMIC IMPACTS – If customers cannot safely leave or enter SR162 because of no safe breaks in the traffic, they will not patronize those farms resulting in farm failures.
- OPERATIONAL IMPACTS – Farming often includes finding available acreage to lease that may or may not be adjacent to the base farm or there may be businesses between them. It requires moving farm equipment along the designated farm to market highway SR162. This cannot be done safely for the operators or adjacent traffic under steady traffic conditions caused by roundabouts. Negotiating roundabouts with wide farm equipment is also challenging and dangerous.
- FARMER RESPONSES – Farmers would prefer signaled intersections to allow breaks in the traffic for their customers and their farm equipment to access the highway. Moving farm equipment through a signaled intersection is much safer for both the operator and the adjacent traffic.
- ALTERNATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS – Signaled intersections are the answer. To improve traffic flow during peak commute hours signals should be electronically linked and controlled to maximize that flow, prioritizing the heavy flow direction.
- DO NOTHING OPTION IMPACTS – No roundabouts allows safer access and egress to the 140 uncontrolled driveways, business entrances, and development streets. Allows better safety to businesses including farm-direct sales. Eliminates choke points during Lahar evacuation when all lanes moving in same direction. Allows safer pedestrian crossings with designated crossing lights.
ADDITIONAL TRAFFIC LANES OF SR162
- WIDENING LIMITATIONS – Widening SR162 to a 4 lane highway is not feasible for two main reasons; 1) it will end farming in this rural agriculture corridor and 2) the expense of right-of-way acquisitions is too high to justify that kind of spending for this short corridor (WSDOT does not consider SR162 as a highway of state-wide significance). The only expansion of this corridor should be adding a two-way turn lane and wider shoulders using the existing right-of-way.
- ECONOMIC IMPACTS – Current traffic conditions are only affecting farm businesses in commuting hours. However, with the additional traffic to and from Tehaleh all hours will be filled. WSDOT can protect farm businesses by providing a two-way turn lane along this corridor for safer and easier left turns into the farms.
- OPERATIONAL IMPACTS – With the additions of a two-way turn lane and wider shoulders, moving farm equipment will continue to be possible. The additional room on the highway will provide adequate space to move extra wide farm equipment more safely and with less impact on traffic.
- FARMER RESPONSES – Valley farmers are in the business of providing food, garden starters, seasonal trimmings (pumpkins and trees), education to school children, and farm fun for the whole family. Unmitigated traffic increases will discourage customers from farm visits due to the high congestion. They want safe access and egress to their farms to keep people coming.
- ALTERNATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS – Farmers are behind our efforts to make improvements to SR162 between Sumner and Orting to include 1) prevent all roundabouts on the SR162 corridor, 2) the addition of a two-way turn lane and wider shoulders, 3) pushing Pierce County to add alternative transportation corridors to redistribute some of the SR162 traffic.
- DO NOTHING OPTION IMPACTS – For the State and County to do nothing will end up strangling the valley farms, directly causing their failure to survive under such conditions. Is that what we want? Are we so concerned about ourselves (our commutes) that we will lose this precious community asset? Would we choose to pave over the most fertile farming soil in the nation to shorten your commute? The farmers hope not!
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP SAVE FARMING?
- Educate yourself on farming and the role Pierce County has in preserving farming (see above links)
- Email or write all Pierce County Council members how you feel about saving farming on the SR162 corridor (see our PLEASE HELP page for names and addresses)
- Pressure WSDOT or our Washington State legislators to recognize the threat they pose to farming in the Orting Valley by proposing roundabouts and added lanes of traffic (see our PLEASE HELP page for names and addresses)
- Share your feelings with others and encourage them to see this webpage to learn more.
- And by the way, thank you for your support by reading this