This weekend, I received leaked details of a massive, $12 billion highway package from an anonymous source in the legislature. Even worse than the last package we saw, it reduces bike/ped funding further, and adds new highway projects, including a massive JBLM interchange that likely includes widening I-5, and dozens of other highway expansions. This package includes funding for the west end of 520 – partly a positive, but it completely funds the project, making tolling I-90 unnecessary. Avoiding tolling on highways is a poor choice for both congestion and sprawl.

Tomorrow, the legislature will begin debating this new package (unofficially of course, as ‘debate’ doesn’t start until a session does, but it does start tomorrow), and they’ll almost definitely soon enter a fourth special session to consider it.

To protect my source, I can’t post the documents, but here’s a screenshot of much of the highway expansion component (click to expand). This package would cause significant increases in CO2, congestion, and sprawl, and offer a bare minimum of transit options. In the long run, driving sprawl like this also dramatically increases the cost to provide transit options.

Highway ProjectsWhile VLF or sales tax at the county level, or a property tax at the city level, aren’t ideal ways to preserve Metro service, they’re better than megahighway projects across the state. If the legislature were funding Sound Transit 3 along with this, it might be a different story, but they are not. This is much, much worse than the Roads and Transit package local voters soundly trounced in 2007. It’s our job to urge our legislators to vote against it.

134 Replies to “Surprise! Fourth Special Session – And a Highway Package that Must be Stopped”

    1. From my understanding the Puget Sound Gateway, ie SR-509 extension and SR-167 expansion projects are what the freight community are really pushing for.

      1. The SR167 completion would be a boon for the economy in the area and improve access in Fife and Milton dramatically. To not build it is shortsighted.

      2. Yeah, hate to say it but the Gateway Project is quite needed. Especially the segment finally connecting SR509 to I-5. It would really help boost the ailing port and could allow us to force all trucks to one corridor. Plus, it opens the possibility for a new transit corridor.

        Granted, the huge widening of I-5 that would go with it (and creating new Express Toll Lanes) isn’t so cool.

      3. All these new freeway projects are going to is widen the time gap between driving and transit even further, inducing more people to drive until it fills up. It will also induce people to live further away. I’d be surprised if transit ever uses this new pathway outside of peak expresses. It would take either a significant influx of new service hours or a significant loss of frequency or coverage somewhere else to pay for it.

      4. Forcing all trucks to one corridor is not a positive. The highway system’s primary (intended) purpose is freight. It is SOV congestion that gets in the way of freight, not freight that gets in the way of SOVs.

        The sad fact is that 509 completion does nothing for freight or the port that 599 does not already do. They could spend a quarter of the money, upgrade the interchanges on both sides of the 1st avenue bridge, and would do a better job of improving freight mobility than finishing 509. This project is basically a new driveway for the airport, a couple offramps in undevelopable wetlands within the worst part of the airport’s noise shadow, and a desperate attempt to entice more commuters onto the embarrassingly empty 509 (and right to the shiny new tunnel! C’mon, this thing was expensive… pay the toll, please?).

  1. I’m wondering what the Marvin Road / I-5 interchange project is all about. I grew up in Lacey and visit my parents there all the time, and that’s usually the interchange I use to get there. I’ve never noticed any major problems there before, so I wonder what it’s intended to fix?

    I also would like to know what “complete the 522 corridor” means. If it means sidewalks and bus lanes for the whole stretch, great. But it’s pretty ambiguous and could mean a lot of things.

    1. Most of these have project pages you can look up on WSDOT’s site. In general, the less specific they are, the more the word “widening” should be in the title, as you’ll see from those pages. :) If there are projects you can’t find references to, let me know and I’m happy to look or ask around!

      1. Couldn’t find anything on either of them from the WSDOT page.

        I’d have a hard time believing they’re planning on widening 522, through the northshore area. I’ve never heard anything from the Kenmore city government to indicate that’s what they want, and they just reduced the speed limit from 45 to 40, and the mayor said he would have preferred it go down to 35. So I’m certain that, at least in Kenmore, we’re not looking for highway widening. But perhaps I’m wrong.

        As to Marvin Road – If they’re planning on widening anything there, that’s just silly.

      2. The “Complete the 522 corridor probably includes
        Widening 522 from 2 to 4 lanes from Maltby to the Snohomish River (Snohomish river to Monroe is being widened now)
        Adding an Overpass with on/off ramps at Maltby (eliminating the deadly traffic signal at maltby)

        Not sure what else Completing 522 Corridor could include

        Lor Scara

      3. “I’ve never heard anything from the Kenmore city government to indicate that’s what they want”

        Since when does what a city government actually want matter to WSDOMA?

      4. Lor Scara,

        I think you’re right. “Completing the corridor” does not mean the same thing as “complete streets”. It means what it says: there’s a set of plans from the 1990’s on some hard drive that has SR522 being a sub-freeway all the way to US2. This fills in the two lane gap.

    2. Complete the 522 corridor probably means completing the work to make SR 522 a freeway between Woodinville and Monroe. The work between Monroe and the Snohomish River is being done now, so this would probably finish the section between the Woodinville area and the new bridge over the Snohomish River.

      1. The math doesn’t add up. Those two projects (Paradise Lake Road Interchange and widening from Paradise Lake Road to Snohomish River) still require at least $108M, but the table shows only $8.5M if I read those numbers correctly. Where’s the other $100M coming from? And this doesn’t complete the SR522 work in Kenmore still remaining (~$20-40M).

      2. Some of it may already be funded. What do the project pages say the funding sources are today?

    3. It’s intended to “fix” the lack of government pork flowing to the pockets of heavy construction companies, concrete mixers, and asphalt plants. Those poor businesses “need” more corporate welfare, even if we have to poison our children to do it.

      That’s what it’s intended to “fix”.

      See also

  2. To be fair, the biggest single project on this list is fully tolled (509 and 167). I’d certainly like to see 90 tolled as well, though.

    1. SR-520 in Seattle may be fully funded, but how? From what I see here, I can’t tell. I-90 tolling may still be in the picture.

      1. Where does the 1.3 gigabucks come from Ben? Does it all come from the increases in the gas tax and vehicle license fees? Your chart says nothing about funding.

        Also, in the post you say that it’s a $12B highway bill, but I only see $7B here in Program I projects. Other reports I heard today have rumors of a $10B transportation bill. You haven’t shown us enough to evaluate the proposal.

      2. aw, I just took a screenshot of some of one of the documents, because I can’t post them without damaging my source. The funding mechanism is gas tax.

  3. This revision is from the senate transportation presentations across the state. It gives a little more money to the Tri-Cities region for needed road improvements, particularly the Lewis Street rail overpass in Pasco.

    I’ll reserve judgement for when I hear about the public transportation components/funding.

    1. I was about to say the same re transit funding. Will it fill Metro’s shortfall and allow some expansion, and how long will it last? Will it help with other Puget Sound counties’ transit needs?

    2. I’ll reserve judgement for when I hear about the public transportation components/funding.

      Me too.

      I have a harder time than Ben does getting upset about highway pork. Yes, it’s pork, and it has effects that we see as negative. But its proponents would say the same about what we want. If we actually get what we want–that is, a real solution to the current transit funding mess–then I’m fine with the legislative logrolling. If not, we shouldn’t play ball.

      1. Here-here, David! We mustn’t think that the transit community is the most important issue in transportation. Some of these proposals for roads seem legit & fair, and would benefit people who cant rely on transit as an option for commuting.

      2. Highway widenings (beyond 1 driving lane each way + turn lanes + parking for normal roads, or 2 each way + entrance and exit lanes for expressways) are complete counterproductive waste: they make roads less safe for minimal improvements in mobility.

    3. If the result of the statewide tour was that most counties want “MASSIVE HIGHWAYS NOW!! Forget about cutting taxes, give us roads!!!”, then it’s hard to see that there would be deep-set opposition to funding transit too. There’s no doubt the “transit is socialist and causes dependency on government and why should drivers pay for transit?” ideology, but I can’t see it as being overwhelmingly strong if the same legislators are contemplating a huge roads expansion.

      1. 12 Billion for roads and nothing for transit is unconscionable. Imagine what even 6 billion for transit from the state would do for the region….

      2. Yeah, but Charles, the legislators don’t understand the economics of transit. Heck, they don’t even understand the economics of roads and infrastructure in general. It’s foreign to them. Just like any type of planning. And yet, they’re the ones entrusted to give credence to plans and the authority to implement them. It’s unfortunately they’re almost unanimously ignorant.

      3. @Stephen F and this is why we need to contact our legislators and let them know they need to fund transit more, not less. The more phone calls and angry emails they get, the better.

      4. My legislators are already supposedly “pro-transit”. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do to get Ed Murray not to be a total dick.

    4. The bill will be subject to amendments. If it’s amended to restore transit funding at the level propsed this summer, then we may just want to take it, or at least focus the debate on whether to accept the highway pork. On the other hand, if the final version does not support transit, then we can oppose it unconditionally. But we need to remember that if the final bill contains substantial transit funding and we cause it to fail anyway, then after that “Plan B” may also fail, and we’ll be stuck with cuts and no relief. Then if it keeps getting worse I’ll have to think about moving to Chicago or not going out after 10pm.

      1. Forget the legislature. Just do plan B and be done with it. We don’t need to agree to massive highway pork to keep our buses running.

  4. Rodney Tom likes to say that once the cities get the transit they need, they won’t support roads. I have a feeling that once he gets the roads he wants, he’ll never let ST3 come up for an authorization vote.

    1. That depends on what kind of pressure he receives when he runs again. From his perspective on the Eastside, what he probably cares about is 520 funding and 405 widening. If enough of his constituents say, “Hey, Sound Transit and Metro too!” and “No more shenanigans like last term or we’ll vote for the other guy”, maybe he’ll improve.

      1. Tom’s reelection chances at this point are basically nil, so he is pretty much immune to electoral pressure from his district.

      2. You have recall elections in Washington, right? When is Mr. Tom due to be thrown out and is there any possibility of throwing him out early? If not, perhaps it’s best to gridlock the government until the next election.

  5. So the road bullies want an all-roads package?

    Ben, I like a good swath of this package but quite frankly my transit dependency makes me a solid no if/when this gets to voters. Transit must be part of the final deal – and not another CRC band-aid that is done to depress transit.

    1. I gotta imagine that’s a when not if – can’t imagine ol’ Tim Eyman would let this one go without taking a few bucks to put in his pocket.

      1. Wishful thinking, but I highly doubt it. Tht guy is nuts. He obviously has something else planned for next year and it ain’t a transportation referendum repeal. Plus, I will automatically vote “No” on any Eyman initiative, even if I agree with it. I think that’s a principle most people have these days.

      2. No, I think the anti-tax wing of our state’s Republican party will force a vote on it. The Tea Party / Grover Norquist wing of the party is much more powerful now than they were a decade ago. Gas taxes in particular are prickly for them. I’m sure there’s a ton of R legislators who want this highway package, but badly need the provide political cover of a public vote to deflect blame for raising the gas tax.

      3. I did forget about I-912. Meh, it’s a possibility. If he does, will he load it up with other daggers? I bet he would. Anti-tolling, transit tax repeal, prohibition of Link crossing I-90 *again*, etc. I highly doubt it would be an initiative that even this blog would support when push comes to shove. Anyway, I stand by what I said. I will never vote to approve an Eyman initiative. No one should.

      4. *Caveat: Unless he puts himself to ballot to be banned from this state, fined into bankruptcy for being a total douche, establishing statute that it is a capital offence to be Tim Eyman, or banning himself to field initiative. I could make an exception in those instances.

    2. Morgan, no, I’m assuming that Eyman is an opportunist and will take any chance he can get to run an initiative and make some money.

      1. But, at least as I understand his business model, Tim Eyman only makes money if there’s a large donor willing to pay him to get something on the ballot. Who ‘s going to be that donor this time?

  6. What about SR 99? That thing isn’t funded at all!!! Thanks, Ed Murray, for sticking us with the bill. — Angry Seattle Voter

    1. You can thank Richard Conlin who signed the MOU against the Mayor’s wishes. You can thank the 5 Councilmembers who voted for Conlin to sign the document thereby encumbering the citizens of Seattle with these cost overruns. You can thank Peter Holmes who gave the council the advice that they could disregard long established separation of powers in our governmental structure.

      When this starts showing up in people’s tax bills, there is your wedge to fight back.

  7. Thanks for the word, Ben.

    Anybody else interested, go to Intercity Transit website, check out southbound Route 603.

    Express bus leaves Downtown Tacoma- 10th and Commerce- at 7:35AM, Tacoma Dome Station at 7:42. Arrive at the Capitol at 8:40.

    By ST schedule book or website, connections work out of Seattle on 590 at 6:15. Also via LINK to the Airport, and 574 south-my choice re: coffee breaks.

    Tomorrow morning, will at least show my representatives that with my senior card and a couple of dollars- IT doesn’t take ORCA- neither garlic nor crufixes nor subarea boundaries can protect them.

    Like line from the German poem quoted in “Dracula”…

    “Denn die Todten reiten schnell!” Look it up on wikipedia.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I wish I could join you but its just too far when I have to work the same day. I will make sure I let as many people as I can know about it though.

    2. Mark, your legislators won’t be there tomorrow morning for you to meet with them. They’re not talking about it in person yet.

  8. Anything that reduces density and gets more cars off neighborhood streets and on to highways is effectively the best (and only) plan for bicycles and pedestrians.

    Wasting millions to build 3 blocks of an “urban cycletrack” is not.

    1. The jobs and attractions are still going downtown, so increased sprawl out in the suburbs means more crowding on in the freeways downtown and more people trying to escape that crowding by driving down arterial roads through town.

      Building more freeways out in the suburbs will not decrease crowding on the Streets in Seattle, building non-car based alternatives for people to get downtown will.

      The bottlenecks in Seattle will exist no matter how many suburban freeways you build.

      1. The jobs and attractions are still going downtown

        Suburban job growth has always outpaced downtown growth. More so after the financial crash of 2007.

        As far as attractions, that is a condition created not by common sense, but by a corrupt government that has by design forced people into downtown.

        For example, the new stadium, if built, would more natural fit into Bellevue, Tacoma or even Kent.

        There are thousands of government jobs, King County and Washington State, that do not have to be in Seattle.

        There could be as many tax incentives to get people out of downtown as put them there.

        Density and Urbanism have been a vain experiment for 20 years. Result: Failure.

        The solution is low density single family homes, with lots of very fast transit done at a regional scale.

      2. >Suburban job growth has always outpaced downtown growth. More so after the financial crash of 2007.

        Numbers please, I see a lot of construction going on downtown and a lot of new jobs for the likes of Amazon, etc. I did not claim that jobs are not growing more in Seattle then elsewhere because I did not have numbers to bear that out, but you are claiming that they are. Show me the study saying that jobs are growing faster outside Seattle than in (also, is this as a percentage of existing jobs in the respective area or in raw numbers?).

        You claim corruption on placing attractions downtown, but I fail to see where this is coming from. As far as I was aware, the Basketball stadium placement in Seattle was a choice by the prospective team owners. Its also where the most infrastructure exists to handle sporting events (i.e. transit to get people in and out of games). I suspect the suburbs would have handled this with another gigantic parking lot.

        Where is your evidence that Urban density is a “failed experiment”? There are quite a number of highly dense urban cities in the world that are doing quite well. The difference here is that we insisted on having our urban city being car driven for the last 50 years. If we had sufficient high speed transit to keep up with the population, we would not have nearly as much trouble getting around… not just in Seattle but in the suburbs as well.

        High speed transit a lot more useful in high density areas than in low density suburbs. The people are closer together and can more readily fill transit vehicles carting them to their next destination. If you want low density suburbs with lots of transit, you are going to get a lot of empty buses. The best solution for this is higher density centers in the suburbs too. Park and rides are also a solution that is being used here, (and they will be a part of over all response) but there is no way we are going to have an effective transit system by putting a train station at the end of every cul-de-sac.

      3. Yeah, I’m with Charles on this one, John. Suburban growth in the Seattle area (or any other area) has waxed and waned. The reasons are complicated. Some blame desegregation, but I think that was an exaggeration. I think cheap housing (in the suburbs) had a lot more to do with it. As a guy who has lived in the suburbs (and hated it) I can tell you that houses going for 100 grand sure sound appealing. Of course, that was a while ago. Now those houses go for a lot more (or are a lot further out). Meanwhile, traffic has gotten worse, and the businesses (like Amazon) have realized that moving to the suburbs is kind of stupid (because not everyone wants to live in that particular suburb).

        I very much agree with you, though, about low density single family homes. If most of the suburbs were as dense as the single family housing we find around Seattle, then everyone in the region would be better off. Transportation would be simpler and cheaper. Housing would be cheaper. I think every region (including Seattle) should encourage that type of development. Just to be clear — apartments definitely have their place (which means, in some cases, that houses will be replaced by them) but if every suburb surrounding Seattle was as dense as the single family houses found in the central district, we would all be better off.

      4. “The solution is low density single family homes”

        What about those compact traditional towns you were talking about? Those are “high-density single family homes”. not low density. Low density is what you have east of Lake Meridian. Is that what you want more of?

      5. What about those compact traditional towns you were talking about?

        Yes, exactly. Where are they?

        Let’s build more Issaquah plateaus.

        And build real centers (like they are just starting to).

        But then, internetwork all of them with fast transit.

        And have it “sprawl” over a wide enough region to keep housing costs low…maybe even back to less than $100K.

      6. Numbers please, I see a lot of construction going on downtown

        Uh…you made the assertion first so the burden of proof is on you.

        And saying “I see a lot of …” is not data…

      7. If most of the suburbs were as dense as the single family housing we find around Seattle, then everyone in the region would be better off.

        On this, I heartily agree…as always.

        And why no one seems to understand this, I cannot fathom.

        We are offered two extremes…apodments, or McMansions.

        The first expensive (per sq. ft) and too tiny.

        The second expensive…and too large!

        Maybe this is a case of market failure…not being able to deliver what people actually want and need, but offering two extremes. Or maybe it’s by design..the key word being “expensive” in, it is neither in the interest of the buider, the agent or the Government to sell us a reasonably sized home, that is reasonably priced because they can’t get their cut off if it. Off us.

  9. I lean towards Ben on this one. I tend to be a pragmatist when it comes to politics. But I see a lot of similarities with this and the Roads and Transit package he alludes to. There are some differences. The Roads and Transit was King County, which is a bit more friendly to transit than the rest of the state. The biggest difference is that the Roads and Transit (and the better proposal that replaced it) was democratic, not republican. I’m not sure if the representatives (based on their somewhat arbitrary districts) are as fond of transit as the general voting public is.

    But again, I lean towards Ben on this because I see a change in the political dynamic. I think this is the high water mark for anti-government, and especially anti-transit Republican lead legislature. I think there is a shake-up that will happen soon, and I think it will happen in the suburbs. If you are a guy from Kent, or a gal from Lynnwood and you work in Seattle, you sure as hell want good transit. The same goes for the east side (of course). It will be a long time before we get the trains running to the northern and eastern suburbs, and frankly, the system that serves the south leaves something to be desired (mainly speed). My point in all of this is maybe it is better to suffer some pain, some really bad traffic, and some really bad bus service just so we can make it clear to the state which party is screwing it all up. There are plenty of road projects that we could all agree make sense (buses run on roads and plenty of us drive) but just as with Roads and Transit, we can do better. Of course, as part of that, you would have to have a left wing contingent that basically says enough is enough. That will piss off the Governor; but as someone who has met the guy several times, I think he can handle it. It will also make the news (in a big way) but frankly, I think that is one of the good points about this. I would guess that most voters are simply unaware that transit funding is on the verge of drastic cutbacks because the Republicans won’t play ball in a reasonable way. Simply asking for the right to tax ourselves while funding a much smaller set of road projects sounds quite reasonable, and should be embraced by plenty of voters.

      1. How am I being sadistic? I am all for bipartisanship. But I just don’t see it. Nor does Ben. Like I said, I’m practical and pragmatic. I’ll willing to give 50%. I’m willing to give 90% (maybe). But when it reaches 99% (like this) then screw it, it is time to fight back.

        The reasonable right has long since retired. Dan Evans is gone. Joel Pritchard is dead (RIP Joel — you were a very good man). You can probably count the number of reasonable Republicans that hold office on one hand, and frankly, I’m not sure you get past the index finger.

        Show me the Republicans who are willing to meet the Democrats half way on this (or any other issue) and I’m all ears. But frankly, I haven’t seen it.

      2. RossB,
        You’re being sadistic by calling for some pain and suffering for the sake of making a political point now.
        Me, on the other hand, I’ve made clear I will not support just a band-aid (e.g. CRC, local option) or nothing for transit. We need real funding for transit – even more as we truly need to improve key intersections around Joint Base Lewis-McChord & NAS Whidbey Island. A transit funding package to me needs to be fair to transit systems in the 38 other counties and smack the Road Bullies upside the head that there actually are Transit Voters in them.

      3. No, we need to turn transit into a cool item and something that should be bipartisan.

        If you think Republicans oppose transit because it’s not “cool” you don’t understand their political ideology or motivation at all.

      1. It includes MVET – but MVET may not be passable countywide anyway. I’ll believe it when I see a poll showing that.

  10. Does Metro’s reduction proposal cover the entire shortfall, and would it be implemented all at once next September? I thought the cuts were going to be phased in over a three-year period. So has that changed, or are additional rounds of cuts expected in 2015 and 2016?

    1. “Does Metro’s reduction proposal cover the entire shortfall”


      “and would it be implemented all at once next September?”

      No. It would be implemented in four service changes over the course of a year. Frequency/span reductions first, then deletions and restructures.

      1. I think that’s actually the ideal situation. The frequency/span reductions will suck, unambiguously. So that will get everyone outraged. Then the deletions and restructures will come, and they will make the situation better than it previously was, and so hopefully it will help people realize that the restructures are worth supporting.

        The two alternatives strike me as significantly worse. If the restructures and reductions happened at the same time, or if the restructures happened first, then everyone would associate “my bus route is changing” with “my service is getting worse”. This plan seems to be our only hope of getting the public to understand that restructures are a way of *avoiding* reductions.

    1. I did fill out that survey, but what is the likelihood that they will just ignore pro transit answers?

      1. Wait, what? She might lose her job because she shows integrity? Maybe I misread that paragraph. [Sorry, Jolene, we have to let you go — we have video of you showing a bit of integrity — you know the rules — pack your stuff and head out of here]

        Or is the Republican party so hush-hush that she can’t admit she knows someone like Joe?

      2. AVGeek,

        Ooopsie. You said “she” and “her job” so the “he/she” is too little, too late……


      3. She could lose her job because many of these state legislators are egomaniacs and doubly so Road Bully lobbyists who’ll scream bloody murder.

        Furthermore, this is going to be an ugly fight to save transit and I’m going to be on opposite sides of her it seems folks.

      4. “Wait, what? She might lose her job because she shows integrity? ”

        This HAS been the M.O. in the upper ranks of the Republican party since at least 2000. Is it seeping down to lower and lower levels?

  11. Ben,

    Why do you call this a $12 billion highway package. The projects in the list, which you say represents “much of the highway expansion component”, add up only to $7.04 billion. Are there other components (re-surfacing, bridge and tunnel maintenance, shoulder improvements for existing roadways) that add up to $5 billion?

    1. I call it that because I only posted one part of a page of a large document. Yes, there are other things, mostly rebates of gas tax constrained road money to counties and cities. As I said in the post, I didn’t want to post all of it to protect my source, as it had notes.

  12. From an infrastructure side I think it’s a great plan (for the most part). There are some pork elements to it however I think it addresses a lot of issues that need work in the state, especially the I-5 Corridor and Puget Sound Gateway. The portions outside the Puget Sound area are probably intended to appease those people and secure their votes. I am disappointed it leaves out SR-18 and completing widening I-5 to 6 lanes from Kelso to Centralia.
    From a transit capital standpoint, it well sucks. There will be some benefit from easing chokepoints, I see little (aside from what might be included in other projects) to finish and expand HOV lanes, Ramps, and Stations. This defiantly needs to be remedied in this plan. Personally, I think HOV stations need to be built for Star Lake and K-D Road P&R and their facilities expanded, also in addition to completing the HOV network through Pierce County, HOV direct access ramps need to be installed for Tacoma Dome Station and Lakewood Station.
    Finally, as for transit operations, and preservation and expansion thereof I think that would have to be addressed separately, since the state does not provide much funding for operations.

    1. Mr. Z,

      I drive I-5 between Vancouver and Hansville about once a month and have noticed very few tie-ups between the Toutle River and Chehalis (the two-lanes each direction section). Rather than spending a bunch of money on widening a road that rarely has two full lanes of traffic, it would be more cost effective to put informational signs at each of the “escape hatches” in that section. There could be signs at Rush Road and then at US 12 for exit either to the Jackson Highway or SR603 southbound and at the Toutle River Bridge for exit to Barnes Road and the Jackson Highway and then at Toledo-Vader Road for exit to SR603 or the Jackson Highway northbound.

      I know such signs aren’t cheap, but they’d do the job for at least fifteen years.

    2. Finally, as for transit operations, and preservation and expansion thereof I think that would have to be addressed separately, since the state does not provide much funding for operations

      … which is both unique to Washington state, and a relatively recent phenomenon. Most other states fund transit a significant amount at the state level, and Washington did as well until about 12 years ago – our agencies have been scrambling for money ever since.

  13. I think we desperately need the 405 widening project. The plan calls for 2 extra lanes in each direction from Renton to Bellevue!! It takes me almost an hour to go that 7 miles each morning…

      1. Yep. A two-lane-each-way expressway has a certain car “throughput”. Add a third lane each way, and the throughput increases by significantly less than 50% due to weaving and other driver behavior (IIRC it’s more like 40%) — but it does attract more drivers. Add a fourth lane and throughput increases by much less than 33% (I think it was more like 20%), but it does attract more drivers, often ending up being slower than before. You get slightly different results with HOV lanes, but not that much different.

        I-405 between Renton and Bellevue is already enormous; it passed the point of diminishing returns on road widening long ago, and is now probably at the point of negative returns on road widening.

  14. I wrote my 49th District Legislators. There’s only one project of any magnitude in Clark County — a new interchange at NE 18th and I-205 — so I expect that being good Democrats they’ll look on this “package” with a pretty jaundiced eye.

    At least I hope so.

    I’ve heard Senator Cleveland say she wouldn’t support a package that didn’t have some significant improvements for Clark County, so she’ll probably be a “No”. I don’t know about Representatives Moeller and Wylie, but they’re both very intelligent folks so they’ll probably see the imbalance in the bill.

  15. This new proposed packed looks pretty good. What’s best are the improvements for the JBLM area, no tolling for I-90 (a plus for Mercer Islanders) and benefits for the freight world.

    1. Not tolling I-90 would be a horrible mistake. People here don’t understand what seems obvious to anyone who has lived in a place with toll roads: tolls should be used to manage demand where there is no reasonable way to satisfy it by building. Bridges across a large body of water are the single best possible example.

      1. As a Pennsylvania native and having lived in the DC area, tolls are not a foreign concept. But in places like these, there is a plethora of state highways and interstates residents can choose from to get around. However, in the case of I-90, I’m against tolling because it is unfair for Mercer Islanders to pay for the ONLY road they can use to leave or enter their home. It would be like tolling my driveway in order to leave my garage. Additionally, there would no longer be a toll-free option to cross the lake. That seems unfair to everyone.

        The Seattle Times stated in an article last night that the state’s Republicans are uncharacteristically entertaining the idea implementing an 11.5% gas tax hike to pay for 520. I must applaud them because it avoids I-90 tolls.

      2. You can go around the lake toll-free.

        And people who live on islands have always had to pay tolls to get on or off the island — unless they own their own boat. Get over it. If they were taking a ferry, they would have to pay a toll, y’know.

      3. So toll one side of the bridge (preferably the Seattle side, as that’s where the real demand crunch is). Islanders can get off the island for free on the other side.

    2. I don’t understand why more lanes are an “improvement”. They will make traffic worse.


    “King County could send to the ballot a car-tab tax increase of up to $150 per $10,000 of vehicle value, to be split 60 percent for transit and 40 percent for county and city roads. Other car-tab fees of $20 to $60 are also conceivable for county roads and transit. Not only that, but Community Transit in Snohomish County could ask voters for a sales-tax boost of 3 cents per $10 purchase.

    “The transit-tax option will likely please urban Democrats, but there’s a big sticking point. The Majority Coalition Caucus, consisting of Senate Republicans plus maverick Democrats Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, are also proposing that sales taxes on road construction be kept in the road funds, instead of flowing into the general fund. That would mean less money for schools, social services, environmental oversight or criminal justice.”


    Barely acceptable to me. Barely, and only if the car tabs option is available for all counties – not just King.

    1. They couldn’t eliminate the sales tax on road projects like they wanted, so now they’re just trying to do an end run around it by redirecting all the collections back at the same projects.

      We could stop these constant grabs for school money by getting education out of the general fund entirely and giving it a dedicated revenue source.

      60/40 seems like a pretty lousy split to me, but it does mean more revenue authority than the $20 CRC. Although the extra slice for roads means that to match the revenue of the CRC, it’d need to be a more politically difficult $33 fee. I am, however, glad that there’s a chance we might pay for local road maintenance through more user fees, rather than the current paradigm of sales/property taxes funding local roads and gas tax money funding freeways.

      As for extending to other counties, in the past Olympia has restricted these options to King County, because Metro has demonstrated it’s cost-cutting prowess to them more convincingly than other agencies in the region. Or maybe it’s just because they feel like they need to buy our votes with transit, but can take the rest of the state for granted?

      1. I think there needs to be an understanding from King County transit advocates that transit advocates in other counties are going to speak loudly against a special deal for just King County…

        All 39 counties get it (like Snohomish & Pierce & Island that need it and have the grassroots votes) or we are not going to swallow a 11.5 cent gas tax hike plus the sales tax diversion that I personally support, it is that simple. The vote is going to be close.

      2. Honestly, that’s the first thing you’ve written with which I unequivocally agree. If other counties want to approve funding for transit–just like happened in two counties this month–then let them have a chance, too.

        I’m still irked at the idea that highway/road funding can go through solely by legislative action but funding for transit has to go to the voters all of the time (well, with the exception of the most recent $20 CRC in King). Why even bother electing representatives if those representatives aren’t empowered to act on our behalf? What makes roads so dang special?

      3. If the 40% for roads was devoted to maintenance of local streets, which King County might actually be willing to do (who knows), it would relieve the property-tax budget.

        If this were the only thing in the transportation package, it would be reasonable, but it doesn’t make up for the megamillions in useless expressway pork.

      4. “If the 40% for roads was devoted to maintenance of local streets…”

        It is; or to be more precise, it’s for maintaining county roads in unincorporated, mostly rural areas, which is basically the same thing.

      5. Actually, the 40% share for local roads would be divided between King County and the cities within, so that as many as 40 municipalities would glean some cash for street maintenance. Some spillover use is conceivable – Seattle pretty much adds bike lanes or sidewalks whenever it rebuilds a street, for instance, as well as funding ice response from SDOT funds generally.

    2. Barely acceptable to me. Barely, and only if the car tabs option is available for all counties – not just King.

      It’s interesting to me that you’re now saying “if it doesn’t meet this minimum bar we should reject it.” When RossB said something quite similar you called him “sadistic.”

      1. I didn’t care for the voting down everything now and intentionally cause pain.

        Frankly we transit supporters need to make ourselves felt and heard that this is not going to fly.

        All counties should get help for transit – and preferably without a double-pump of votes versus a single-pump for roads.

  17. in the current legislative discusisons, the local options for transit are tied to the statewide package. the Senate package increases the gas tax and zeroes out the CRC to build more highway projects. they do not want I-90 tolling. the best reason for tolling is demand mangment and not revenue to fund capital projects any way. I-90 tolling (and I-5, I-405, SR-509, etc.) is needed to assure free flow travel for all modes (e.g., freight, transi, and general purpose); it ought not be used to fund capital projects any way. the revenue raised is needed for unfunded maintenance; the interstate system is getting old; I-5 needs billions for rehab.

    Ben assertes that the Senate package is worse than the 2007 joint ST-RTID ballot measure. I doubt it. consider: in 2007, RTID would have used significant flexible funds (not subject to the 18th amendment) to build unpriced limited access highways (e.g., I-405, SR-167, Crossbase); RTID would have used one tenth of a cent on the sales tax and some MVET. the Senate package uses mostly gas tax. the gas tax has positive price effects and is fair.

    hopefully, there will be significant negotiation to tone down the package: SR-520 could be smaller, now that we know that tolling reduces the need for six lanes between Montlake and I-5; tolling could be added back into the new limited access projects. is the north-south freeway in Spokane really needed more than maintenance on old Spokane infrastructure?

    1. If this were a “fix it first” package I think you’d be seeing a lot more positive reaction. Because it’s a “build useless expressway widenings which we can’t afford to maintain” package, it’s really very unattractive.

  18. If the dream of the 90’s is alive in Portland, the dream of the 1950’s is alive in the Washington Legislature.

    A bunch of polluting highway pork, in a time of the climate crisis. And while this list is outrageous and perpetuates the myth that we can build our way out of congestion, it’s not dissimilar from the Democrats’ package from the last session.

    The Democrats are all too willing to push this stuff forward while getting a few scraps for choices, with fake Climate Warrior Inslee slamming on the gas pedal to mainly expand polluting highways across Washington (while transportation is the leading cause of Washington’s pollution).

    Mortgaging our kids’ future to expand highways, instead of fixing our existing infrastructure, stopping the carnage on our roads, and giving real people real choices that work for them. It’s the plan across parties, and it’s embarrassing.

  19. The massive $350 million JBLM interchange mentioned here, is mainly funding the Thorne Lane interchange, one of the segments for the hotly contested Crossbase Highway, a project the Sierra Club called the worst highway project in the state, and one that helped take down the old Prop One when it was included. Crossbase would be all new construction that would cut JBLM into two halves with a 6 lane highway.There is a environmental lawsuit against this project from David Bricklin; the Thorne Lane interchange is closed at night and ALL weekend, and JBLM troop numbers are shrinking rapidly due to phasing out in the Middle East. There are three segments they are trying to fund, one, the Gravelley-Thorne connector has no independent utility, it was a requirement by the EPA if the crossbase were to be built, and EPA still gave the project it’s lowest “Inadequate” rating,and the EIS is woefully outdated. The real purposed of this interchange which links I-5 to through Thorne Lane to a east-west route (176th St. E) is to connect a massive master planned community in Orting that plans 6,500 homes (Telaheh) and has nothing but a congested two lane road to get to Tacoma. Developers were given a sweetheart deal in east Pierce County and did not pay their fair share of the roads necessary to carry the additional population, so the taxpayers are being asked to. Ask WSDOT to break down the $350 million, you’ll see the lion’s share is at Thorne Lane. Pat McCarthy tried to get this included last spring and was shot down by the Executive Board at PSRC, and was awarded several million to “study” the congestion and alternatives to avoid the lawsuit. No word on that, they just dropped it back into the package and are hoping “congestion relief” will be enough to carry it!

  20. They need to make sure they include money for widening I405 from Renton to Bellevue, we want 2 lanes added in each direction. Anyone who drives on this knows how bad this is. Not including this would be a mistake.

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