Snohomish County could see $600 million in state investments out of Democrats’ 16-year, $16.8 billion transportation package proposal.
That’s about $2.6 billion short of what Snohomish County leaders have on their wish list.
The proposal from transportation committee leaders Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, and Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, includes design and engineering work on the U.S. 2 trestle replacement, expanded bus services, fare-free transit for riders 18 and younger, state culvert replacements, an upgraded ferry terminal and widening part of Highway 522.
Democrats plan to pay for it without a gas tax increase.
Instead, they’re relying on $5.4 billion from the cap-and-trade system established in the Climate Commitment Act passed last year, $3.5 billion from the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, $2.3 billion from higher fees for license plates, stolen vehicle checks, dealer temporary permits and driver licenses, a $2 billion transfer from the state general fund, and $2 billion from a new 6-cent tax on exported fuel.
The largest single investment in Snohomish County is $210 million for design and engineering of a westbound trestle replacement.
It’s a big gap from last year’s Senate transportation proposal by former state Sen. Steve Hobbs. He had $1.8 billion to replace the trestle, but differences between his proposal and Fey’s weren’t resolved by the end of the session.
Money for the trestle replacement has long been sought, and exactly what it would look like or if tolls would be included remains to be decided.
A Washington State Department of Transportation study concluded three lanes would be enough. But more lanes on the trestle can’t be the only change, according to the report.
Adding a third lane to a new or upgraded trestle would not eliminate westbound congestion and “could only provide a limited near-term benefit” in part because of backups on I-5.
“Traffic on a wider trestle would still back up as vehicles slow to squeeze onto a congested I-5 and by 2040, traffic congestion on the trestle would be worse than it is now,” according to the study.
The third lane could be an express toll, high occupancy vehicle, or peak-use shoulder lane.
County officials largely supported the package during Senate Transportation Committee hearings last week. Snohomish County Councilmember Megan Dunn called the trestle funding “a critical down payment” on what county Executive Dave Somers described in written testimony as one of the county’s “most pressing infrastructure needs.”
Snohomish County Councilmember Sam Low, also a candidate for the state House in Legislative District 39, said he was encouraged with some funding for the trestle and widening Highway 522. Both are in his district, which also includes the often mired stretch of U.S. 2 east of Snohomish.
A replacement bridge on Highway 525 in Mukilteo near the former ferry terminal could get $46 million.
Work on the interchange of Highway 529 and I-5 near Marysville could get $31 million to fully fund it.
The package also has:
• $25 million for bus lane work on Highway 99 between Lynnwood and Everett.
• $20 million for Lynnwood’s Poplar Way bridge project.
• $8.4 million for Paine Field access improvements on 100th Street SW.
Low wanted to see more lanes and safety improvements there and on Highway 522 between Maltby and the Snohomish River bridge. The package includes $10 million for that segment.
“We can’t pat ourselves on the back because there’s a lot more work to be done,” Low said. “I think this continues to set us up for future investments in transportation.”
Rep. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, in an emailed statement last week said he was glad the package didn’t rely on higher gas taxes. But he disagreed with the $2 billion from higher fees and his party being left out of the package’s formation.
House Republicans floated their own transportation package this winter.
“Our Republican transportation package has some great ideas such as shifting the sales tax revenue paid on vehicles from the operating budget to the transportation budget,” Sutherland said.
With Democrats holding the majority in both chambers, it’s unlikely that bill progresses this year either.
Transit projects in Snohomish County could get $50 million from the Democrats’ package.
Community Transit is marked for $30 million evenly split for its Swift bus rapid transit Green, Gold and Silver lines. The Green line connects the Seaway Transit Center near Boeing in Everett and the Canyon Park Park and Ride in Bothell. The Gold line is being developed to connect Everett Station and the Smokey Point Transit Center. The Silver line is proposed to connect the Seaway Transit Center to Highway 9 at Cathcart Way.
The other $20 million is penciled in for I-5 and 164th Street SW improved connections to the planned light rail station there. Buses and carpool drivers can take a northbound exit to the Ash Way Park and Ride. But heading north from the transit hub or reaching it from I-5 south puts buses and carpool vehicles onto the main roads.
Improving that connection is one of the county’s top priorities. The county’s regional priority projects list describes a new connection over I-5 for HOV, multimodal and transit access along with ramps to the north.
Some of the package’s $193 million for vessel refits and terminal upgrades to accomodate electric ferries are marked for the Clinton ferry terminal to serve ships on the route shared with Mukilteo.
Bike and pedestrian safety projects in the county could total almost $41.4 million.
Highway 99 revitalization accounts for over half with $22.5 million. For the section in Edmonds between 212th Street SW and 244th Street SW, the city is installing raised center medians in the road, building wider sidewalks, adding lighting, replacing or moving some overhead utilities underground, and improving crosswalks. Edmonds estimated the cost at $175 million.
“No longer will these be neighborhoods you pass through, these will be neighborhoods you travel to,” Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson said during online testimony Friday.
A pedestrian bridge over Broadway would get $12.9 million. The elevated crossing would be 17 feet, 6 inches above the road near Everett Community College to connect the college’s main campus with its Learning Resource Center being built just south of WSU Everett.
Lake Stevens plans to build a trail network, including a multi-use path along South Lake Stevens Road. The transportation package includes $3 million to connect to existing bike facilities on 20th Street SE and the Centennial Trail.
The city could also see $2.5 million in state investments for a connection between 16th Street NE and the Centennial Trail. Currently there’s a trailhead at 20th Street NE and Machias Road, but the two-lane street is busy with vehicles and lacks sidewalks east of downtown.
Marysville’s Cascade Elementary School could see $474,000 worth of Safe Routes to School improvements.
A notable gap in the package was lack of specific funding for fish barrier removal by cities and counties. County Councilmember Dunn pointed it out in her testimony Friday.
The transportation committee is scheduled to vote on the bill Monday.
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