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Washingtonians invited to online open house for 509 expressway

This Memorial Day Weekend – the unofficial start of summer that typically sees droves of Americans hit the road for vacation plans – Washingtonians won’t have to leave their homes to learn more about the State Route 509 Completion Project in south King County, Washington.

That’s because the public is invited to attend the Washington State Department of Transportation’s online open house to learn more about the $1.1 billion project and its construction of a new four-lane, three-mile SR 509 expressway.

The virtual open house, which started on May 23 and runs through June 22, also includes the release of a 3-dimensional video tour of the full project based on current designs and lets people comment on the project.

The move toward online open houses was spurred, at least in part, by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns in 2020.

“Open houses, whether in-person or online, are one of the many tools that WSDOT uses for public engagement,” explained Emily Glad, WSDOT’s acting communications director, in an email to The Center Square. “During the pandemic, there were restrictions on in-person public meetings which required WSDOT to shift to predominantly online open houses, similar to other public agencies.”

The shift has paid off, she noted, and will continue in the future.

“We have seen more engagement with online open houses, compared to an in-person open house, since the public may participate at any time over a period of several weeks,” Glad said. “Moving forward, WSDOT intends to use both online and in-person formats for open houses.”

The SR 509 project is meant to extend the highway from its current ending at the southeast corner of Sea-Tac International Airport to Interstate 5. It includes project features in the cities of Burien, Des Moines, SeaTac, and Kent.

Upon completion, the project will provide new access to Sea-Tac Airport and regional seaports. That’s in addition to helping get freight off local streets, improved pedestrian safety, and better traffic flow in south King County via a north-south alternative to I-5.

Stages 1a and 1b of the project are currently under construction. State 2 construction is slated to start in late 2024 and wrap up by 2029.

This article was originally posted on Washingtonians invited to online open house for 509 expressway

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