OLYMPIA — Efforts to ease congestion on Highway 9 through Clearview, to slow drivers on Highway 530 in Darrington and revitalize Main Street in Mountlake Terrace are among several area projects getting a financial boost in spending plans under consideration by the Legislature.
There’s also money for solar panels on the new Mukilteo ferry terminal and environmental work related to removing a choke point for drivers trying to travel westbound on the U.S. 2 trestle.
The funding is contained in the supplemental transportation budgets passed by the House and the Senate in recent days. While the two plans are similar in many areas, there are differences that will need to be reconciled. Negotiations are expected to begin this week to produce a budget the two chambers can act on before the session ends March 8.
Neither budget is investing in large new projects. That’s because in 2015 legislators approved $16 billion of improvements in the transportation system. That 16-year Connecting Washington program is funded primarily by an 11.9-cent gas tax increase.
“One of my priorities was making sure Connecting Washington projects are funded,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and chief author the Senate plan.
He said he tried to find savings from one project and use the money to help advance others already under way.
For example, he steered $8.8 million to a long-term project to widen Highway 9 from 176th Street SE to State Route 96 in the Clearview area. With those dollars, design work and right-of-way acquisition can be finished.
This will move the state closer to getting rid of a bothersome bottleneck, Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby, said.
“We still need to secure construction funding in future budgets, but this is a great step forward for families who commute on Highway 9,” he said.
The House and Senate budgets each contain $2 million for environmental analyses related to the eventual rebuilding of the U.S. 2 trestle. Those reports would be in addition to an extensive study now under way known as an interchange justification report. It is looking at ways to get drivers through the choke point where U.S. 2, Highway 204 and 20th Street SE come together on the east end of the trestle.
And both budgets provide $500,000 to address the problem of chronic settlement on 35th Avenue SE in Mill Creek between 141st Street SE and 144th Street SE.
Other items in one or both of the budgets include:
- $40,000 to put flashing radar speed signs on each direction of Highway 530 near Chief Brown Lane north of Darrington.
- $500,000 for construction and improvements on Viking Way, from 88th Avenue NW to 92nd Avenue NW, in Stanwood.
- $7.1 million to cover increased costs of constructing the new Washington State Ferry terminal in Mukilteo plus $750,000 to provide greater use of solar panels than originally proposed.
- $600,000 to solicit proposals for converting the state’s three largest ferries from diesel to hybrid electric and determining what modifications are needed at the terminals to support and charge electric ferries.
- $360,000 for preliminary engineering for the second phase of the Main Street revitalization project in Mountlake Terrace. This multi-year, multi-phase undertaking is sprucing up streets for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as carrying out improvements to utilities, street lighting and signals.
Details on the two budgets, including their list of projects, can be found online at http://fiscal.wa.gov/BudgetT.