State transportation budget has money for US 2 trestle

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee signed a new state transportation budget Tuesday containing millions of dollars to assist morning commuters on the U.S. 2 trestle, to provide a new emergency access to the Edmonds waterfront and to make it safer for pedestrians along the Bothell-Everett Highway.

The two-year, $8.5 billion spending plan also provides money for Everett Transit to buy new electric buses and the state Department of Transportation to work on easing congestion on northbound I-405 in Bothell and replacing the intersection of Highway 522 at Paradise Lake Road in Maltby.

It marks the first full biennium of spending for Connecting Washington, the $16 billion transportation improvement package enacted in 2015 and funded in part with a gas tax increase.

“We know the challenges we all have and frustrations about traffic in our region,” Inslee said before signing the budget. “But I am pleased there’s been bipartisan success both in the last session and this one to take meaningful steps forward.”

The governor also called the budget’s inclusion of money for pay hikes for troopers and officers of the Washington State Patrol “to keep them on the job and keep our highways safer.” The raises take effect July 1 when the budget cycle begins.

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Committee, took part in the drafting and negotiating of the final agreement.

“This keeps the promises of past transportation packages. This keeps the promise to our employees as well,” he said. “It is an example of what bipartisan legislation can look like.”

Overall, the budget earmarks $215.4 million for road projects and transit services in Snohomish County.

This includes $800,000 to construct sidewalks on Highway 527 from Seattle Hill Road to 180th Street SE, $2.88 million for Everett Transit to purchase electric buses and $90 million for Washington State Ferries to complete construction of a new terminal in Mukilteo.

There’s a $1.82 million grant for the city of Lake Stevens to get going on its “Jump Start” proposal. This is an effort to give buses and carpools a way onto the U.S. 2 trestle and around the backup of westbound traffic every morning where U.S. 2, Highway 204 and 20th Street SE come together. And there is $350,000 to identify different ways to pay for eventually replacing the trestle.

There’s also $1.7 million for improving waterfront access and safety along Highway 99 in Edmonds. Of the total, $1 million is expected to be spent on pedestrian, street safety and landscaping projects on the two-mile stretch of Highway 99 through Edmonds.

There’s $700,000 to continue design work of a single-lane overpass, called the waterfront connector, to remedy a problem of getting to the city’s waterfront. The two access points to the area, Main and Dayton streets, can be blocked for hours by trains or when there’s an accident.

This overpass would begin at the intersection of Edmonds Street and Sunset Avenue and cross over the railroad tracks leading down to Brackett’s Landing North and Railroad Avenue. The project’s estimated cost is $29 million and could take several years to build.

Other investments include $420,000 for improvements at the intersection of Highway 9 and 4th Street NE in Lake Stevens that will ease congestion and backups during peak-hour traffic and $750,000 to begin engaging residents about the best way to replace the intersection of Highway 522 at Paradise Lake Road in Maltby.

“All of our projects are continuing to move forward in this budget. The trestle study will position that project for funding in the future,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, who serves on the transportation committee. “We delivered a lot of extra accomplishments for Snohomish County.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

Tax dollars at work

An interactive map of projects funded in Snohomish County and throughout the state can be found online at http://fiscal.wa.gov/TransportationMaps.aspx.

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