Fogging the deck

Crews spray down the deck of the new, temporary westbound SR 520 off-ramp to Montlake Boulevard to keep it moist in the hot weather before placing wet burlap to let the concrete cure. (Photo – WSDOT)

On Friday, July 10 the House approved the final agreement on Transportation. I’m happy to have supported it, though I have some concerns. (You always do when it’s a compromise between groups with very different views about the appropriate set of investments.)

The Good:

  • The SR 520 bridge will be finished. There is $1.6 billion in the package for the remaining part of the West landing. There is also funding for a new SR 520 interchange at 148th Ave. to support major developments in the Overlake area. This should help alleviate a lot of the slowdowns in that area and allow more density so that we have less sprawl. Also included is planning for a new interchange on SR 520 at 124th Ave. that will allow the Spring District in Bellevue to grow and have rational access to the freeway.
  • A new I-405 lane from Bellevue to Renton, plus lots of work on the SR 167 interchange.
  • Sound Transit III authorized.
  • This package is the largest investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure ever in our state. There are some super Eastside projects I’ll write about once I deconstruct the whole package.

The Bad:

  • Gov. Inslee agreed to a moratorium on setting a standard for carbon intensity in transportation fuels as part of the deal. We should be able to make decisions about transportation investments independently of environmental decisions about how clean our fuels are in the state.
  • Sound Transit III depends on property tax in a way that will interfere with the state resolving phase 2 of the McCleary problem, probably requiring the use of an additional tax source for school funding. This can be worked around, but I don’t like it.
  • The original Senate proposal took money from the general fund to pay for transportation projects. The resolution here was to increase the sales tax rate on Sound Transit projects to make up for the difference. I’ve complained about shifting funds from the general fund for several years, but this “solution” is worse than the problem. It takes money from the central Puget Sound to pay for transportation projects all over the state. Rep. Jessyn Farrell amended the bill at the last minute to reserve these funds for education investments in the same region the tax is collected from, a change I supported.

On July 10th, the Washington Legislature passed the Transportation Package. While not perfect, this proposal furthers our collective vision of more and better transportation choices for all.

Supporting comments from “Transportation Choices”, one of the key voices of the non-highway community:

Transportation Choices’ mission is to give Washingtonians more opportunities to walk, bike, or take transit as their first choice to get around. While this 16 year, $16 billion investment is far from the ideal proposal, it is a legislative compromise and we applaud its passage. With millions of dollars of new state transit investments and $15 billion of Sound Transit 3 authority, this deal will go a long way to give Washingtonians more transportation options.

Author: Ross

I am the Director of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State. I formerly represented the 48th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives, chairing the Appropriations committee and spent many a year at Microsoft.