Senator Fred Jarrett (D-Mercer Island), candidate for King County executive, has inserted the following amendment into the Senate Transportation Bill, SB 5352.

On page 36, after line 6, insert the following: “(29) The legislature is committed to the funding and construction of R8A in a timely manner, supporting the construction of Sound Transit’s East Link. The department shall complete the process of negotiating the airspace lease with Sound Transit, including appropriate and independent facility asset assessments required to accommodate the use and funding of the I-90 center roadway for East Link in support of East Link project milestones.”

EFFECT: Provides legislative commitment to constructing the R8A center lane and Sound Transit East Link project on the I-90 corridor, and directs the Department of Transportation to negotiate the airspace lease with Sound Transit to facilitate the project.

This is in direct conflict with the House’s provision to effectively block WSDOT negotiations with Sound Transit over the center roadway.  Assuming the Senate version wins out over the House’s, this would remove the procedural obstacle to East Link and leave only the funding one.

My source says the vote on the amendment was approximately 29-19; when they arrive, we’ll watch with interest the Yeas and Nays on this pretty straight up-or-down vote on East Link.

There are still two other serious problems with the treatment of Sound Transit in the proposed budgets, to say nothing of the gutting of funding for intercity rail.

11 Replies to “BREAKING: Senate Moves a Little”

  1. The Senate has approved the transportation budget, so we’ll see if anything changes in the house. Otherwise we’ll be following conference pretty closely.

  2. I’ve got my intern working on a full explanation, analysis of the problems you outlined in an earlier post, so that I can know what’s what. Our funds are shrinking, too, and some of these changes may have been driven by cash flow problems. I think that’s the likely explanation for the regional mobility grant changes, because we have very limited multimodal funds and a list of asks that just keeps growing. Stay tuned, guys, because the situation is fluid. And Fred’s amendment seems appropriate.

    1. The no money argument might hold a little more weight if there wasn’t $3B in the budget for a tunnel under Seattle. Is the only reason the tunnel is funded because it’s a pretty safe bet little to none of it can be spent in the next two years? I sense the “budget game” has become push the pea. When it comes time to actually cut the check funding commitments are suddenly a victim of “not enough cash”.

      I will gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today. – Whimpy

    2. How is Senator Jarrett’s amendment appropriate? Unless you have dubious intentions, what’s the point of intervening on air space negotiations between ST and WSDOT? Especially – as Ben has pointed out – since it’s not Frank Chopp’s / Judy Clibborn’s floating bridge to sell in the first place.

      Rep. Clibborn’s House transportation budget (which Rep. Eddy voted for) took $25 million from a $40 million transit fund, and jacked around the list of compettive grants.

      That’s not a “cash flow problem,” especially since the Senate left the Mobility Grants list alone.

      That’s a Representative-Who-Dislikes-Transit problem. And a House-Speaker-Who-Could-Care-Less-About-Transit problem.

      1. Jarret’s amendment would put the process back in WSDOT’s hands. It is language added, likely, so that in conference either this section or Clibborn’s section has to be removed. Jarret wants Clibborn’s section to be removed.

      2. The problem is, this process is already established. ST and WSDOT have been using it for ages. Jarrett’s amendment still makes a change, which means a legal review, etc. – he should have simply pledged to fight it in committee, I think.

      3. I could be wrong, but I think an appropriate conference solution would be to remove both changes since they effectively cancel each other out. What actually will happen, none of us know, but I think passing an amendment is requires more agency than simply making a pledge, you know?

  3. While this helps a little you still need the money to get moved up to finish the project.

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