U.S. 2 safety group wants highway’s cities to pitch in for lobbying costs

For each of the past three years, the U.S. 2 Safety Coalition has spent $3,000 in donations to pay for lobbying in Olympia. Most of its budget is spent on efforts to persuade policymakers to fund transportation projects on the highway.

Now, the nonprofit is asking cities to foot part of the bill.

Asking them is fair because the coalition has brought funding that’s benefited cities along the highway, coalition chairman Fred Walser said.

“We are doing this for you, then you should contribute financially,” Walser said.

The coalition doesn’t need money for lobbying for this session.

It is asking Snohomish, Sultan, Monroe and Gold Bar for help pay the lobbying firm, Jensen Walgren Doty Governmental Consulting, in Tumwater, for the next two legislative sessions.

At a Monroe City Council meeting earlier this month, Walser said the lobbying firm offered a lower rate than other firms.

Since 1999, dozens of people have died in accidents along U.S. 2 between Everett and Stevens Pass, state records show.

To help reduce accidents, several projects are under way for U.S. 2, including construction of a roundabout near Sultan.

The nonprofit wants cities to contribute different amounts for the lobbying efforts. The Monroe City Council agreed to pay $3,500, more than any other city. The Sultan City Council approved paying $500, which was half of what the coalition sought.

Gold Bar is being asked to pay $500, but Mayor Joe Beavers said the city is unlikely to help, citing budget problems.

Snohomish was expected to be asked this week to contribute, but city manager Larry Bauman said Thursday he has not heard from the coalition.

Lobbying is necessary because it puts U.S. 2 on the Legislature’s radar, Walser said.

Monroe pays the most because it stands to gain the most.

“I’m hoping that with the lobbying effort the Legislature ends up including the Highway 2 bypass,” Mayor Robert Zimmerman said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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