LAKE STEVENS — A cadre of elected officials gathered alongside an aging U.S. 2 trestle Wednesday to make their case for how a healthy injection of federal funds into the nation’s transportation infrastructure could lead to less congested and safer commutes for Snohomish County residents.
“I’ve been pushing a transportation package for multiple years, and now we have an opportunity to work with our federal partners as they pass the American Jobs Act, and we can pass ‘Forward Washington’ to finally get the trestle that we need,” state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said at a news conference.
Democratic U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen of Everett and Suzan DelBene of Medina are pushing for $1.7 million to pay for a study by the state Department of Transportation on how best to rebuild the half-century-old westbound span of elevated highway that links Lake Stevens and Everett.
The aging piece of infrastructure is carrying increasing numbers of vehicles. A daily average of 82,000 traveled on the U.S. 2 trestle in 2019, according to state data.
“We’ve had huge growth in our region, and it’s resulted in heavy congestion during peak hours and concerns about structural longevity,” DelBene said as trucks whizzed behind her on westbound U.S. 2.
Mayor Cassie Franklin of Everett noted that the trestle is a key piece of regional infrastructure whose age potentially makes it seismically unsound.
“It’s a huge vulnerability when the next great big one comes,” she said, referring to an earthquake. “So now’s the time that we improve this trestle, with the safety of our drivers and communities at stake and also the future.”
The study would likely address continued route development, National Environmental Policy Act and State Environmental Policy Act concerns, and findings from a report on revising the interchange with I-5 and surface streets on the west end.
State transportation officials have pinned the trestle replacement cost at $1.1 billion. Hobbs said $1.8 billion is necessary for a trestle “preservation project” — which would include redoing the interchange with Highway 204 and 20th Street Southeast in Lake Stevens.
Funding for the study is being sought in the federal surface transportation bill set for reauthorization by Congress this year. Wednesday’s news conference also sought to piggyback on the push by President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats to spend about $1.7 trillion on highways, bridges, broadband, water treatment plants and a whole lot of other items dubbed as infrastructure. Congressional Republicans have countered with an investment in the neighborhood of $900 billion.
Either scenario could bring millions of dollars into Snohomish County for projects aiming to increase safety on rural highways, to improve traffic flow on city streets, to boost light rail expansion and to complete long-sought projects.
“We have to fix our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, what I think is one of the best examples of why we need to do that is the Highway 2 trestle,” DelBene said.
In the U.S. House, the Democrat-led Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is to assemble the pieces of the surface transportation reauthorization bill beginning June 9, Larsen said. As part of the process, each House member could submit projects for inclusion, knowing there’s no guarantee they’ll make the cut.
Meanwhile, Larsen, a transportation and infrastructure committee member, sought funding for five other projects in the 2nd Congressional District he’s represented since 2001.
Among those are $3.9 million for the city of Arlington for its proposed 169th Street connecting segment. He’s also seeking $4.96 million for installing equipment at the Clinton ferry terminal on Whidbey Island to service electric-powered ferries, which the state aims to deploy in the near future.
DelBene, who represents the 1st Congressional District, submitted 29 projects. She’s seeking $4.9 million for a roundabout at Smokey Point Boulevard and Highway 530, and $900,000 for a roundabout on U.S. 2 and Main Street in Sultan.
Also on her list are $10 million for Sound Transit for work related to the Everett extension; $6 million to replace Granite Falls Bridge 102 on the Mountain Loop Highway, which spans the Stillaguamish River northeast of downtown; and $15 million for safety improvements on U.S. 2 between Snohomish and Skykomish.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Seattle, whose 7th Congressional District takes in part of south Snohomish County, put in 10 undertakings for funding. Among them is $2 million to install a system that will adjust timing of traffic signals that will lead to reduced travel times and congestion of Highway 104 from 236th Street Southwest to 226th Street Southwest in Edmonds.
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