JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - A primary avenue on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Lewis Main will become a boulevard in 2012.

Planning is underway in the Directorate of Public Works to expand Pendleton Avenue into a "multiway boulevard," according to Nathan Harber, a community planner.

As the east-west spine of Lewis Main, Pendleton is planned to eventually extend from the DuPont Gate all the way to Madigan Army Medical Center. The boulevard will feature two-lane streets for faster-moving through traffic traveling east and west, separated by a median, with narrower local-access lanes on either side for slower traffic, also separated from the main streets by medians. The lanes are designed to permit safe bicycle transit and provide parking stalls for convenient access to facilities nearby.

Construction on Phase 1 is projected to start during spring 2011 and be completed by fall 2012. The initial phase will widen Pendleton from 11th Street to 41st Division Drive.

"Multiway boulevards are unique to the Puget Sound and rare to find in the United States," Harber said. "They are grand streets designed to separate through traffic from local traffic and provide special pedestrian ways on tree lined malls."

The goal is to allow vehicle traffic on Pendleton to move with ease through the core of JBLM Lewis Main, while providing ready access and parking near facilities along the street and creating safe, convenient paths nearby for pedestrians.

Apart from the convenience, the medians are all landscaped to beautify the primary thoroughfare for residents and visitors.

"There are a lot of trees that are going to be planted along this boulevard," Harber said.

All the medians will be tree lined. Planners focused on continuing the village theme to complement current construction as well as the projected lifestyle center, Harber said.

The eventual beauty and utility of the boulevard will come with a price. During construction, there will be periods of inconvenience. DPW will post the phasing plan on its website with specifics about the times and places of construction and alternate routes to avoid it.

"The current plan is to have one-half of the street open while they're constructing the other half," Harber said. "In some places it might look like the same street that they'd been driving on and they're constructing the two lanes right next to it - keeping that open, then switching in some cases. In other cases, they're going to have to close complete segments and route traffic around to Liggett and Nevada."

At the same time, underground utility lines will be installed beneath the new boulevard.

"There are going to be a lot of moving pieces on this project, but it's going to be well worth it," Harber said. "It will definitely be something of pride for the installation."

Don Kramer is a reporter with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's weekly newspaper, the Northwest Guardian.