Committee removes $20 roads fee from King County budget

November 8, 2012

NEW — 11:15 a.m. Nov. 8, 2012

The committee responsible for crafting the 2013 King County budget dropped a plan to charge unincorporated-area residents a $20 vehicle-license fee to fund road maintenance, officials announced Thursday.

The proposed $7.6 billion budget contains $685 million for the general fund — the source of dollars for elections, law enforcement and other basic government functions. King County Council budget team members said 73 percent of dollars from the fund go toward public safety and criminal justice programs.

The proposed budget does not dip into cash reserves or the county’s rainy day fund.

In September, King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed a $20 fee to fund road maintenance and storm response in rural and unincorporated areas.

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King County executive proposes $20 fee to fund roads

October 9, 2012

Unincorporated King County residents could pay a $20 vehicle license fee next year to shore up road maintenance in rural areas.

Dow Constantine

King County Executive Dow Constantine recommended the fee in the proposed 2013 budget. The fee is projected to raise $4.5 million to fund road projects in unincorporated areas, such as Klahanie, May Valley and Preston in the Issaquah area.

The alternative could mean reduced maintenance to correct problems, such as potholes, and a slower response during snow and ice storms.

Still, county leaders need about $50 million to $65 million per year to maintain the 1,500-mile road network in unincorporated King County.

“The fee won’t be enough, not by a long shot. But it’s the only remaining authority left to counties by the Legislature,” Constantine said in a Sept. 24 budget address to the King County Council. “The system for funding local transportation in Washington state is broken. Everybody knows it. We have a 1930s revenue system to fund 21st century transportation needs.”

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King County expects layoffs, reduced road maintenance

September 4, 2012

King County expects to lay off 54 road workers and officials said the lack of attention on roads could mean further deterioration.

Dow Constantine

Kathy Lambert

Officials also plan to leave 11 vacant jobs unfilled — for a total reduction of 65 jobs in the county Road Services Division — due to a drop in tax revenues. The reduction is expected to go into effect early next year, as the 2013 budget goes into effect.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the reductions Aug. 23. The loss of funding could mean reduced maintenance to correct problems, such as potholes, and a slower response during snow and ice storms.

The county is responsible for about 1,500 miles of roadway, but the reduction in revenue means less maintenance, especially of roads in rural areas.

The road overlay program is shrinking. Officials said only 11 miles of deteriorated roadway could be repaved before year’s end. In the next budget cycle, the county might not have any local funding for paving, unless officials gain additional revenue sources.

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King County expects layoffs, reduced road maintenance

August 24, 2012

NEW — 11 a.m. Aug. 24, 2012

King County expects to lay off 54 road workers and officials said the lack of attention on roads could mean further deterioration.

Officials also plan to leave 11 vacant jobs unfilled — for a total reduction of 65 jobs in the county Road Services Division — due to a drop in tax revenues. The reduction is expected to go into effect early next year, as the 2013 budget goes into effect.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the reductions Thursday. The loss of funding could mean reduced maintenance to correct problems, such as potholes, and a slower response during snow and ice storms.

The county is responsible for about 1,500 miles of roadway, but the reduction in revenue means less maintenance, especially roads in rural areas.

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County to make safety improvements near Liberty High School

June 19, 2012

King County road crews plan to make safety improvements near Liberty High School soon.

The county King County Road Services Division received federal grant funding to complete the project east of Renton. Crews plan to restripe the westbound lanes at the intersection of 168th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 128th Avenue Street — north of Liberty.

Get involved

Submit comments about the project by June 29 to Community Relations, King County Department of Transportation by phone at 206-263-9770, by email to community.relations@kingcounty.gov or by mail to 201 S. Jackson St., MS: KSC-TR-0824, Seattle, WA 98104.

Learn more about the project at www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/Roads/Construction/ConstructionProjectsOther/HighwaySafetyProgram.aspx.

Plans also call for the existing traffic signal to be changed to provide a left-turn signal. Expect improved pedestrian facilities to result from the project, too.

Officials expect the changes to reduce the number and severity of rear-end collisions involving motorists waiting to turn left from Southeast 128th Avenue Street onto 168th Avenue Southeast.

In the existing arrangement, a curve limits the visibility of vehicles stopped in the inside westbound lane. Advance warning signs and flashers located east of the intersection should help alert westbound motorists of changes and the need to merge to the right.

Construction is expected to begin by September and be completed by the end of the year. Students return to Liberty and other Issaquah School District campuses Sept. 4.

No full road closure is expected as crews complete the work. Expect to see project signs on the approaches to the intersection to alert motorists a few weeks prior to the start of construction.

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King County to make safety improvements near Liberty High School

June 14, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. June 14, 2012

King County road crews plan to make safety improvements near Liberty High School soon.

The county King County Road Services Division received federal grant funding to complete the project east of Renton. Crews plan to restripe the westbound lanes at the intersection of 168th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 128th Avenue Street — located north of Liberty.

Plans also call for the the existing traffic signal to be changed to provide a left-turn signal. Expect improved pedestrian facilities to result from the project, too.

Officials expect the changes to reduce the number and severity of rear-end collisions involving motorists waiting to turn left from Southeast 128th Avenue Street onto 168th Avenue Southeast.

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King County plans to remove Preston trees, install guardrails

May 29, 2012

King County road crews plan to remove hazardous trees along a Preston road throughout the summer.

The removal is included in the annual Countywide Guardrail Program to improve roadside safety for drivers. Crews then plan to install guardrails in the area this fall.

The trees sit in King County road right of way. Officials identified the trees as hazardous because some could fall across the road or onto utility lines, many block sightlines for drivers on curves and hills, and others have a history of being struck by vehicles on numerous occasions.

Officials identified about 17 trees for removal on both sides of 308th Avenue Southeast on Mitchell Hill between Southeast 87th Place and Southeast 64th Street.

Citizens interested in learning more about the tree removal or guardrail installation can contact the county Department of Transportation at 206-263-9770 or community.relations@kingcounty.gov.

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King County crews start roadside weed control soon

March 27, 2012

King County road crews plan to roll out a roadside weed control program in unincorporated areas April 9.

Through the annual program, certified technicians conduct controlled herbicide spraying along road shoulders during the spring and summer. The program is meant to reduce safety hazards for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

The spraying also controls noxious weeds — a potential threat to animals and native vegetation.

If residents do not want county crews to spray the county right of way near their property, they should post “owner will maintain” signs. The owners must also agree to maintain the right of way themselves. Maintenance agreements must be completed and returned to the county Road Services Division before the signs can be issued.

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King County crews launch roadside weed control program

March 9, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. March 9, 2012

King County road crews plan to roll out a roadside weed control program in unincorporated areas April 9.

Through the annual program, certified technicians conduct controlled herbicide spraying along road shoulders during the spring and summer. The program is meant to reduce safety hazards for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

The spraying also controls noxious weeds — a potential threat to animals and native vegetation.

If residents do not want county crews to spray the county right of way near their property, they should post “owner will maintain” signs. The owners must also agree to maintain the right of way themselves. Maintenance agreements must be completed and returned to the county Road Services Division before the signs can be issued.

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Fallen trees prompt latest Preston road closure

January 25, 2012

NEW — 7:30 a.m. Jan. 25, 2012

Downed trees prompted a road closure in rural Preston, King County transportation officials announced Wednesday morning.

The road closure at 308th Avenue Southeast, at mile south of Southeast 64th Street, is about two miles north from the Preston Athletic Fields & Park.

King County Road Services Division officials did not offer estimates for reopening in the 6:30 a.m. update.

The closure occurred after strong winds caused another round of power outages across the region, less than a week after residents in the Issaquah area and throughout Western Washington faced icy conditions and lengthy power outages following a snowstorm and rare ice storm.

County transportation officials urged motorists to monitor the road closure list throughout the day for updates about the Preston closure and other issues.

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