Reminder: SR 520 highway closes this weekend from 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, to noon Sunday, Aug. 16

_MG_0405From 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, to noon Sunday, Aug. 16, crews will close all lanes and ramps of SR 520 between 92nd Avenue Northeast and Montlake Boulevard. The westbound SR 520 transit lane between 84th Avenue Northeast and Evergreen Point Road will be closed from 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, to 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 17. Transit riders should check Metro rider alerts for the most up-to-date information on where to catch their bus this weekend. During this closure, WSDOT crews will perform annual maintenance activities on the existing bridge including testing of the existing drawspan.

We encourage travelers to plan ahead during a busy Seattle summer weekend of sporting events and festivals. When SR 520 is closed, use alternative options like I-90, transit and carpools, as needed. To see a list of the major events and closures in the region in August, check out WSDOT’s interactive closure and event calendar.


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: Continue reading “Transportation!”

Legislature Still has Work to Do

You may have read in the press that the Legislature got a budget done by midnight on June 30th, allowing the state to continue providing unemployment assistance, Medicaid, childcare, public schools, college classes, and all of the other things that we have decided to do collectively. I am frustrated that we were unable to come to an agreement more quickly, but pleased that we got it done. I’ll write more about the budget and what’s in it over the next few weeks.

However, we have work to do before we sign off. The Senate is high-centered on I-1351. I predicted that it would be difficult to come to a 2/3 vote on this issue and was proven correct by Tuesday night’s activities. Melissa Santos has a reasonable summary in the Tacoma News Tribune.

Continue reading “Legislature Still has Work to Do”

WSDOT: Public Tours of the New 520 Bridge – Register Today!

[Update 7/13/15] The text below is from WSDOT, not from me. They are offering this tour. It’s probably full by now anyway. They may offer more, so it’s worth watching the space if you are interested.

bridge tourRegistration opens today for next public tour of the new SR 520 floating bridge

Are you curious about complex feats of technical engineering? Have you driven on the world’s longest floating bridge and wondered about the slightly longer floating bridge taking shape right alongside? Do you enjoy wearing a hard hat and reflective vest?

If so, you’re going to love this news. Registration opens today (July 2) at 10 a.m. for the next of our summer public tours of the new SR 520 floating bridge. Leaving from Medina, these guided tours will give you a hardhat-required look at the new bridge, from vantage points not typically accessible to the general public.

Visit our website for full information and links to put your name in for a spot. The tours take place on the last Saturday of each month, beginning in May and lasting through September.

Demand has been very high for these tours, and spots are limited. So signing up is not a guarantee of securing a spot. Tour participants will be randomly selected from those signed up, with separate sign-ups held prior to each month’s tour.

Additionally, we are offering tours of the West Approach Bridge North project in Montlake. The next tour of this project is Wednesday, Aug. 5. Information about these tours also is available on our website.

Final 520 Pontoons to Arrive Thursday!

If you are crazy enough to actually want to track the arrival of pontoons to the new 520 bridge project online – here are the links. These are the last 3 pontoons. In addition, WSDOT is running a photo contest about pontoons. Here’s the link.

The journey from Grays Harbor is nearly complete and we expect the final three SR 520 pontoons to arrive on Lake Washington tomorrow, Thursday, April 9.

Below is a table indicating estimated arrival times for each pontoon and a link to where you can track their location as they arrive on Lake Washington. Please note, actual arrival times may vary due to towing conditions.

Pontoon Estimated time of arrival at

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

3015 NW 54th St.

Tugboat tracking link
Pontoon G 9:30 a.m. Tugboat Mudcat
Pontoon H 12:30 p.m. Tugboat Nancy M
Pontoon F 2 p.m. Tugboat Solana

State budget battles and Cougar culture in Seattle at Civic Cocktail, Feb. 4


SEATTLE CHANNEL FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 22, 2015 Contact: Lori Patrick, Seattle Channel Communications (206) 733-9764,

State budget battles and Cougar culture in Seattle at Civic Cocktail, Feb. 4 WSU President Elson Floyd and state legislators Ross Hunter and Steve Litzow join the conversation

SEATTLE –A contentious state legislative session and a conversation about higher education with Washington State University President Elson Floyd are on the bill for Civic Cocktail, 5:30 p.m., Wed., Feb. 4 at the Palace Ballroom, 2100 Fifth Ave.

From meeting the McCleary mandate to opening the state’s second publicly-funded medical school, education will lead the discussion at the first Civic Cocktail event of the year.

The first half of the program will feature State Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48th) and Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41st) discussing issues the divided Legislature in Olympia will tackle this session, including meeting a State Supreme Court mandate to fund K-12 education, making sense of medical-marijuana laws, and moving forward with a state transportation funding package. And what about the stalled Seattle tunnel project, which has led to tensions between state and city officials?

Hunter is chair of the House Appropriations Committee (responsible for the state budget). Litzow chairs the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.

During the second half of the program, Floyd will join host Joni Balter to talk about the role of WSU in helping to solve the critical problems that face our state, nation and world and the research university’s legislative priorities, which include building a new academic center at Everett University Center, which WSU assumed management of last summer. WSU recently announced its support of a state measure that would direct new revenue to education, including early learning and higher education and is exploring a partnership with Bellevue College to offer a bachelor’s degree at the Eastside college. Floyd will also discuss WSU’s plans to open the state’s second fully accredited, publicly-funded medical school in Spokane to address the state’s physician shortage, particularly in underserved rural areas.

A journalist panel, including Essex Porter who covers government and politics for KIRO TV and Crosscut’s Managing Editor Berit Anderson, will weigh in on the discussions.

Civic Cocktail offers an evening of networking, civic conversation, Tom Douglas appetizers and a no-host bar. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The program begins at 6 p.m. Advance registration is recommended as these events sometimes sell out. Register at or call 206-682-7395. Advance ticket prices are $20 for CityClub and Crosscut members and $25 for non-members and at the door.

Seattle Channel presents Civic Cocktail in partnership with Seattle CityClub and Crosscut. The conversation is rebroadcast on Seattle Channel cable 21 and is available online at

Seattle Channel is a local TV station that reflects, informs and inspires the community it serves. Seattle Channel presents programs on cable television – channel 21 on Comcast (321 HD) and Wave (721 HD) – and via the Internet to help residents connect with their city. Programming includes series and special features highlighting the diverse civic and cultural landscape of the Pacific Northwest’s premier city.

Lawmakers seek community input on state budget

Posted on January 5, 2015
Rep. Ross Hunter

How would you solve Washington state’s $4.4 billion budget problem?

That’s the central question Senator-elect Cyrus Habib (D-Kirkland) and Representative Ross Hunter (D-Medina) will be asking their constituents at a town hall meeting this Saturday, 10 a.m. at Redmond City Hall. Representative-elect Joan McBride (D-Kirkland) will also be participating in the discussion.

The eastside lawmakers want to hear from 48th district residents on what issues are important to them. They will provide a brief overview of the challenges and opportunities facing the state in the upcoming legislative session at the town hall.

“As I move from the State House of Representatives to the State Senate, I am keenly aware of the challenges before the Legislature: the need to address income inequality, the opportunity gap in education, and climate change,” said Habib who was recently selected to join Leadership of the Senate Democrats. “I look forward to discussing these and other issues with my Eastside constituents on Saturday.”

“We’re facing a large budget problem this session,” said Hunter, the chair of the committee responsible for writing the state budget in the House. “In addition to the constitutional education funding problem pointed out in the McCleary decision, the voters approved an expensive initiative lowering class sizes. Representative-elect McBride, Senator Habib and I are looking for feedback from constituents on the right mix of new revenue and program reductions in other areas necessary to fund these obligations.”

The 105-day legislative session convenes on January 12.

48th Legislative District Town Hall
Redmond City Hall
15670 NE 85th St.
10 a.m. – noon
Saturday, January 10, 2015

Super-Interesting Changes in The Amount of Driving We Do

Vehicle Miles Travelled Forecast ComparisonWSDOT released a new forecast of gas tax revenue based on a new forecast of how much people are likely to drive in the future. Less.

There are a lot of factors that drive this change, and you can read more about them on Sightline, The Seattle Times, or the actual wonky report itself, published by the Office of Financial Management.

This is a major change in how we look at the future, and will have big implications. Basically, raising the gas tax by a penny will get you a lot less revenue. Of course, you won’t have to build as much highway infrastructure if it’s true, so maybe that will work itself out. I think the uncertainty leads us to depend less on borrowing against the projected revenue stream. If we were to increase the gas tax and not borrow against the new stream of revenue we would build fewer projects at the beginning, but have more flexibility in the future to respond when we see how drivers really behave.

Changes my thinking some about how we should build a transportation package and what should be in it.

Roundtable Urges Transportation Investment

Aerial Photo of 520 Bridge Construction near Medina
520 Bridge Construction near Medina

Crosscut reported today on a press conference by Steve Mullin, the head of the Washington Roundtable urging the Legislature to pass a transportation package, and touting a Boston Consulting Group study that the package would generate a lot of economic activity in the next 30 years – far more than the cost of the projects.

The Washington Roundtable argued Tuesday that passing $7 billion worth of transportation improvements in the 2015 legislative session would create $42 billion worth of economic benefits to Washington in the next 30 years.
Report: Inaction on transportation is expensive for state, public

I totally agree.

Continue reading “Roundtable Urges Transportation Investment”