Feds give wider I-405 the hook

Associated Press

BELLEVUE — The federal government says plans to expand I-405 would hurt wild chinook salmon and must be changed.

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service told the state Department of Transportation earlier this month to drop plans to widen the highway unless state officials can show the fish will be protected.

NMFS suggested the state encourage mass transit rather than widening the highway by as much as six lanes, as plans call for. But state officials believe they can design an expansion that won’t hurt the fish.

I-405 is the state’s second-busiest freeway. It stretches 33 miles from Tukwila to Lynnwood and carries 290,000 vehicles every day. NMFS must approve expansion plans before the state can apply for federal grants and construction permits.

The agency worries that widening the freeway would create too much pavement near the Lake Washington and Issaquah River watersheds.

More rainwater would land on pavement and flow into drainage systems, and less water would be absorbed into soil, where it could replenish the water table and area rivers, said NMFS spokesman Brian Gorman.

State Sen. Jim Horn, a Mercer Island Republican and member of the state’s I-405 expansion committee, said the agency is overstepping its bounds.

"I’m very concerned, very upset," he said Thursday.

The state is conducting an 18-month, $6.5 million study of the I-405 corridor. Transportation officials have asked to meet with NMFS. That could happen as soon as next week.

"We believe that it is too early in the process to conclude that none of the alternatives can be designed or implemented to satisfy (the Endangered Species Act)," Michael Cummings, state I-405 planning coordinator, wrote the agency.

Cummings said his department is confident it can come up with a plan that will satisfy the government, and Gorman agreed it’s possible.

"We’re not saying this project can’t be done," Gorman said. "Growth itself causes serious problems with salmon habitat. There are ways to let growth develop in a green way, and another method, which is just throwing your hands up."

The federal government last year declared Puget Sound chinook salmon a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

1 dead in crash near Lynnwood following police pursuit

Deputies said they were pursuing a man, 37, southbound Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes and drove the wrong way.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

People walk along the waterfront in front of South Fork Bakery at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett inks deal with longtime Bothell restaurant

The port will break ground on two new buildings this summer. Slated for completion next year, Alexa’s Cafe will open in one of them.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

The Temple of Justice is shown Thursday, April 23, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)
WA high court: DUI breath tests valid, machine results not at fault

A state Supreme Court ruling reversed an earlier Kitsap County decision that found alcohol breath tests inadmissible as evidence.

People fill up various water jug and containers at the artesian well on 164th Street on Monday, April 2, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Washington will move to tougher limits on ‘forever chemicals’ in water

The federal EPA finalized the rules Wednesday. The state established a program targeting the hazardous chemicals in drinking water in 2021.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
US 2 to partially close late Friday near Lake Stevens

The state Department of Transportation will detour drivers during the 10-hour closure between Highway 9 and Highway 204.

Pat Clayton works on putting in electrical wiring at the new Helion headquarters on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s Helion eyes Central WA for groundbreaking energy venture

Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority commissioners approved a letter of intent with Helion on Tuesday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.