Leaders call for 8-cent gas tax hike to fund ailing roads

January 1, 2013

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 1, 2013

King County leaders asked state legislators for a gas tax increase and for the ability for counties to collect a vehicle tab fee for road maintenance.

In a letter to lawmakers last month, Eastside elected leaders joined King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn asked legislators to raise the gas tax by 8 cents to fund ailing roads.

The proposal offered from Constantine, McGinn and the Sound Cities Association calls for 65 percent of gas tax revenue to go to the state and 35 percent to go to local transportation projects.

(Issaquah a member city in the Sound Cities Association, a regional advocacy group once called the Suburban Cities Association.)

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Issaquah legislators receive key commitee assignments

December 26, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 26, 2012

Local lawmakers received or retained influential committee assignments — and the ability to shape state policy on education, transportation and other priorities — in the next legislative session.

Recent changes in how the state Senate operates changed prospective roles for local legislators. Though Democrats claim more members in the Senate, Republicans announced a plan in early December to instead put a bipartisan caucus in place to run the chamber.

With help from Sens. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, Republicans received a 25-24 majority. Under the proposal, Tom is poised to serve as majority leader and oust Democrats’ chosen majority leader, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle. (Until redistricting last year, Tom, a former Republican, represented some Issaquah neighborhoods.)

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State planners offer tools to ease holiday travel headaches

December 26, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 26, 2012

The state Department of Transportation delivered gifts to holiday travelers — tips to avoid travel-related headaches.

The agency offers numerous travel information tools for motorists headed out between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Travelers planning to hit state highways can find information on the Department of Transportation website about the times and places drivers can expect to experience holiday weekend delays, including U.S. 2, Interstate 90, and Interstate 5 at the Canadian border, and between Olympia and Tacoma.

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City OKs buildings up to 125 feet tall in business district

December 25, 2012

Redevelopment plan calls for more than 7,000 residences

City leaders raised the building height limit to 125 feet in the business district and raised the stakes for redevelopment in the decades ahead.

The roadmap to redevelopment — a document called the Central Issaquah Plan — also creates a framework to add more than 7,000 residences on about 1,000 acres stretched along Interstate 90.

In a series of decisions reached Dec. 17 after years spent re-envisioning the business district, a relieved City Council adopted the Central Issaquah Plan, but delayed action on a key piece until at least April.

“It’s the right plan at the right time,” Councilman Fred Butler said. “It will not happen overnight, but when the time is right, we will be ready.”

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Snow causes few disruptions for Issaquah residents

December 25, 2012

Snow crept into forecasts in recent days, but aside from a dusting in higher-elevation neighborhoods and a delay for Issaquah School District students, winter weather did not cause significant disruptions in the area.

In response to slushy conditions on roads and some snowfall overnight, school district administrators delayed the start of school two hours Dec. 18. The day before, as forecasters issued a winter weather advisory for Western Washington, Issaquah and King County road crews prepared for snow.

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Expect reduced transit service on Christmas

December 23, 2012

NEW — 6 p.m. Dec. 23, 2012

Expect reduced transit service from Christmas Eve until after 2013 arrives, as King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit adjust schedules for the holidays.

Metro Transit operates on holiday and reduced weekday schedules Christmas week and during the New Year’s holidays.

The agency operates on reduced weekday bus service Monday, Christmas Eve, and on a Sunday schedule for Christmas. Then, transit goes to reduced weekday bus service from Wednesday to Friday.

Using a limited schedule over holiday periods from November through January is estimated to save Metro Transit about $1 million each year. The agency typically experiences a drop of about 15 percent in ridership during the holiday week.

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Unincorporated King County residents avoid $20 roads fee

December 18, 2012

Residents in unincorporated King County — including Klahanie, Mirrormont and Preston in the Issaquah area and more than 200,000 people countywide — no longer face a $20 vehicle-license fee to fund road maintenance.

King County Council members dropped the proposed fee from the 2013 county budget, and approved the spending plan Nov. 13 in a unanimous decision. Instead, officials plan to lobby the state government for additional road dollars — a challenge as the state faces another budget shortfall next year.

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 leaders set legislative agendas

December 18, 2012

Transportation is a high priority as King County prepares to ask state and federal leaders for assistance to upgrade roads and other infrastructure.

King County Council members adopted legislative agendas for the state and federal governments Dec. 10.

The county is asking the state to create financing tools to allow local leaders to create revenue for the aging road system in rural and unincorporated areas.

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King County Metro Transit urges riders to prepare for snow

December 17, 2012

NEW — 10 p.m. Dec. 17, 2012

Snow is in the forecast overnight and into the morning commute Tuesday, so King County Metro Transit is reminding bus riders to plan ahead for getting around during winter weather — especially since many changes occurred on bus routes earlier in the fall.

Though major snow accumulation is not expected, riders should plan ahead, because minor snow and icy conditions could delay buses. The mass transit agency offers tool to help riders stay informed during inclement conditions. If necessary, Metro Transit can reroute buses around closed roads, add chains to bus tires or switch to snow routes.

Metro Transit riders can receive up-to-date information about route changes at the Transit Alerts website, http://1.usa.gov/5c064v.

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Troopers target motorists for aggressive driving near tractor-trailers

December 16, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 16, 2012

State troopers plan to crack down on aggressive motorists through May in a regional effort to change drivers’ behavior around commercial vehicles.

Officials said collision data shows cars cause the majority of crashes involving cars and commercial vehicles. Washington State Patrol troopers received a grant to conduct a Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks, or TACT, emphasis in King County.

In King County, most collisions involving commercial vehicles happen on interstates and state highways. Troopers plan to patrol Interstate 90 from Seattle to North Bend, plus stretches of Interstate 5, state Route 18 and more from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. — the time most collisions occur.

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