Transportation budget includes funds for several county projects

OLYMPIA — Negotiations on a new state transportation budget could bring an infusion of money into Snohomish County to assist morning commuters on the U.S. 2 trestle, provide emergency workers access to the Edmonds waterfront and to make it safer for pedestrians on the Bothell-Everett Highway.

The House and Senate have each passed a two-year spending plan for the state’s transportation system. This week leaders of the transportation committees in each chamber began reconciling the differences between them. There’s optimism those conversations will result in an agreement before the regular session ends April 23.

Overall, the amount of spending in the two plans is pretty similar with the House at $8.7 billion and the Senate at $8.65 billion for the budget cycle that begins July 1.

Money for several new Snohomish County projects shows up in both budgets.

Area lawmakers secured a $1.82 million grant for Lake Stevens for the city’s proposal dubbed “Jump Start.” This is an effort to give buses and carpools a way onto the trestle and around the back-up of westbound traffic every morning where U.S. 2, Highway 204 and 20th Street SE come together.

What’s under consideration is restriping a stretch of westbound 20th Street SE, from around 79th Avenue SE to the trestle, to create a dedicated lane for buses, carpools and vanpools to use during the peak times of the morning commute.

As part of this option, Lake Stevens leaders and state transportation officials are trying to figure out if carpools, vanpools and buses also could use the road beneath the trestle to bypass some traffic. Those vehicles would drive onto a longer merge lane two-thirds of the way across the trestle.

Other projects for which money is earmarked in both budgets include:

$700,000 for the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector. This money would get work started on designing and constructing a 16-foot wide single lane overpass linking Edmonds Street to the waterfront. Pedestrians could use it to cross over the railroad tracks. It also would be built for use by emergency vehicles. The total construction cost has been estimated at $24 million.

$800,000 to construct sidewalks on Highway 527 from Seattle Hill Road to 180th Street SE and add a crosswalk and traffic signal near Seattle Hill Road. When the proposed pedestrian safety improvements are completed it would be named in memory of Parker Lang and Quincy Tigner, who were killed in separate incidents in 2016 while walking on the Bothell-Everett Highway.

$2.88 million in a grant for Everett Transit to buy three wireless, electric buses to provide service to the city’s east side and linking the riverfront and waterfront areas. Part of the money would cover the purchase of charging system equipment.

$750,000 to complete the reconstruction of 35th Avenue SE between 144th Street SE and 141st Street SE in Mill Creek. With this allotment, the state will have provided $4 million for the work.

$420,000 for improvements at the intersection of Highway 9 and 4th Street NE in Lake Stevens that aim for less congestion and back-ups during peak- hour traffic.

The Senate plan also contains a $750,000 down payment toward replacing the intersection of Highway 522 at Paradise Lake Road in Maltby. These dollars are allotted for the community outreach and practical design processes that would precede actual designing and constructing of a new interchange.

And the Senate budget also provides $1 million for revitalizing Highway 99 in south Snohomish County. State lawmakers in 2015 pledged $10 million for this effort in the 2012-23 budget and senators are now looking to spend a slice of that amount four years earlier.

“Our region is one of the fastest growing in the state and our infrastructure must keep up with our communities,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the lead Democratic transportation budget writer. “With these investments, we will keep our corner of the state moving, our economy thriving and our families safe.”

Details of each budget, including list of projects by legislative district and county, can be found online at www.fiscal.wa.gov.

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

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