Help’s on the way for Lake Stevens traffic

OLYMPIA — It looks like the state wants to start clearing away the confusion for drivers trying to get in and out of the Frontier Village shopping center in Lake Stevens.

Today, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a final transportation budget containing $500,000 for the Department of Transportation to begin the process of designing improvements to the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 204 in front of the center.

On a 78-19 vote, the House passed the spending plan sent by the Senate — with a handful of changes. If the Senate agrees with the House amendments, then the budget will go to Gov. Chris Gregoire for signing.

The budget outlines $8.6 billion in spending statewide between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2011. That amount is roughly $1 billion more than what the Legislature approved last year, with most of the increase from new federal funds for rail projects.

In addition to the Frontier Village funding, the budget includes money for hiring extra workers at the Mukilteo ferry terminal, where the number of cars in holding lanes has increased since new lanes opened last year.

On another ferry-related matter, the budget patches a $38 million hole in Washington State Ferries’ fuel budget with money from road maintenance and preservation reserves.

Gregoire called for imposing a fuel surcharge on ferry fares starting May 1, but lawmakers in both chambers are delaying any surcharge until at least July 2011.

The budget also provides $3.6 million for training a new class of Washington State Patrol troopers.

Both budgets passed Saturday now go to the House of Representatives for action.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;

Other legislative actions

  • The Legislature gave its final endorsement Monday to a state constitutional amendment granting judges more power in denying bail. The measure, approved 92-4 in the House, now heads to the November ballot for final approval by voters. If enacted, it would allow state judges to deny bail when a suspect is charged with a crime carrying a possible life sentence and, based on evidence, is considered a danger to the community.
  • The Legislature approved a statewide ban on the chemical bisphenol A in baby bottles and other containers. On a 38-9 vote Monday, the Senate concurred with changes made by the House that includes sports water bottles under the ban. The measure also bans food and drink containers with BPA if they’re intended for children under age 3. If signed into law by the governor, the ban on children’s containers would go into effect July 1, 2011, and the ban on sports bottles would take effect July 1, 2012.

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