Issaquah transportation projects avoid infrastructure funding setbacks

July 23, 2013

By Peter Clark

Passage of the state budget ended up positively for transportation projects in the city.

Though many thought there were potential infrastructure setbacks for the state as a whole, funding revenue was allocated to the north Issaquah plan to alleviate traffic congestion. Five million dollars within the capital improvement budget will be set aside for the Local Improvement District around the Costco headquarters and Pickering Place.

“I was ecstatic that we got these Issaquah projects passed,” Sen. Mark Mullet (D-5th) said. “We fully funded the request for the LID. It went down to the wire, and we think it was a very big success.”

Even though the $5 million will assist the city’s attempt to untangle transpiration woes north of Interstate 90, Issaquah’s Public Works Engineering Director Sheldon Lynne was quick to say that the improvements would cost more.

“The projects is still a $40 to $50 million project,” Lynne said, adding he still was glad of the Legislature’s support. “The funding was excellent. It is what the city asked for.”

He said the money would go for implementing an environmental review and help with the cost of planning. The city is in the process of finding other state and federal sources in order to aim for a 2014 start date on construction. Lynne said there is much of the process still left to accomplish, including public hearings.

“This was still a very positive step forward,” he said.

The budget also included a few state transportation projects to expand state owned roads in the city. According to the state’s budgeting information, there will be a widening of state Route 900 from Southeast 78th Street to Interstate 90 as well as a modification on the Sunset Way entrance to the highway.

Not all of the news was positive. Both Mullet and Mayor Ava Frisinger lamented the failure of the large state transportation package in the Legislature. The package would have funded such things as an extended bridge over the Columbia River and, in its present form, would have included a gas tax to fund it.

“My biggest frustration is that we couldn’t get the Senate Republicans to have an up or down vote on the transportation package,” Mullet said. “I was a huge proponent for the package. We just lost a billion dollars in federal funding with this project.”

The lack of a transportation package also leaves some public transportation in a questionable state as some Issaquah transit routes could lose funding.

“The thing that is a disappointment is the lack of a transportation package,” Frisinger said. “It jeopardizes some of our routes. Any kind of cut in transit makes things difficult for those dependent on public transportation.”

Still, she said she was grateful for the funding that came to the city’s aid and thanked Mullet for his efforts.

“These were certainly good things,” she said. “They were substantially helped by Senator Mullet, and Representative Chad Magendanz as well. They really held together on those things.”

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