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Cash for U.S. 2 trestle in state Transportation budget

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — There are local winners in the overall transportation package approved by the Legislature last week.
Built inside that is the $17 billion transportation package dubbed the Move Ahead Washington package.
A big down payment toward replacing the U.S. 2 trestle is one of the biggest wins out of this package.
Move Ahead was shepherded by Senate Transportation Chair state Sen. Marko Liias (D-Everett) and approved by Democrats along party lines. It charts a 16-year spending plan that includes more than $297 million for Snohomish County projects.

U.S. 2 trestle commitment
The Move Ahead package earmarks $210 million over 16 years to replace the westbound U.S. 2 trestle and expand capacity, including $3 million in 2022.
It’s a small step: A 2018 funding study suggests replacing the trestle could cost approximately $1.1 billion in total.
The westbound side of the trestle dates to 1968. It carries more than 1,800 vehicles an hour during any given daytime hour traveling to reach I-5 and into Everett.
A recent state Department of Transportation study on the trestle had two concepts emerge: to build a three-lane trestle, or a four-lane trestle with one HOV lane.
For comparison, the eastbound trestle is two lanes with the shoulder being used as a peak-traffic** lane.

State Route 9 funding
This year’s transportation package retains $22 million toward construction funding for widening Highway 9 in Snohomish, from Marsh Road to Second Street, including the Snohomish River Bridge.
It’s a small step to accumulating funds for the $142 million project, with about $113 million to go.
A roadmap for funding calls for the last money to arrive during the 2025-2027 biennium, with a suggestion to place an additional $89.5 million for the project in the 2023-2025 transportation package that will be discussed next year.
The highway would be expanded to have two lanes in each direction north of the Marsh Road/Airport Way intersection. A second bridge west of the current one to handle traffic.

522*** -- corrected, see below
The Move Ahead WA plan appropriates $1 million for 2022 and earmarks $10 million over the next 16 years for widening the remaining gap in 522.
In 2021, the Legislature dedicated $9.1 million from the Connecting Washington package account and another $12 million from the state motor vehicle account — some $21.2 million overall — toward design and engineering work at Paradise Lake Road and widening the remaining gap in 522.
The project in question would alleviate congestion by making an overpass at Paradise Lake Road to replace the existing stoplight intersection. Access from Paradise Lake Road would use on- and off-ramps.
There is no construction funding assigned for this project yet.

Boosts for transit
The transportation budget pegs $3.4 million for Community Transit’s Swift programs, plus $5 million toward its Swift Green Line.
It provides $1.9 million to Everett Transit toward creating induction charging infrastructure for its electric bus fleet.

Other items in Move Ahead
The Move Ahead package does not modify the state gasoline tax.
It does increase airplane fuel taxes from 11 cents per gallon to 18 cents. The package devotes money toward developing zero-emissions electric aircraft.
It also offers $33.6 million in grants to public transit agencies with one key condition: They must go fare-free for anyone under 18 by this fall to get the grant money.
It also mandates that ferries arrange to let youth ride for free.
It requires schools to teach children how to ride a bicycle, and selected school districts will be set up with a fleet of bicycles to give away to
children in need.
It provides $150 million towards developing ultra-high-speed rail.
It also commits to giving the state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) $550,000 toward supporting a larger number of teenagers in foster care with driver’s education school toward getting a
driver’s license.
The Move Ahead plan also sets a 2030 target date to end sales of gasoline cars and trucks in Washington state, and make all new car sales electric vehicles only. A similar proposal like this was developed last year and got vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Revenue sources affecting your pocketbook
A jump in titling an out-of-state vehicle into a Washington state title, from $15 to $50, is a small part of funding for the Move Ahead package.
Other fee increases affect how much it will cost to get an enhanced driver’s license to travel to Canada in lieu of using a U.S. Passport (increase from $35 to $56), and an increase in the cost to replace your motorcycle license plate.

Major funding sourcing
Most funding for Move Ahead WA is from intergovernmental transfers after an earlier plan to create an export tax on fuel refined here and sent out of the state. The fuel export proposal faced a fight from Oregon and Idaho.
Now, $57 million a year will come from the state’s general fund and $57 million a year from the Public Works Assistance Account used by local governments for utility infrastructure improvements will be transferred to transportation, a Liias press release said.
The chair of the public works fund’s board chastised the move.
“This is a short-sighted proposal that will have negative consequences for our communities,” said Public Works Board Chair Kathryn Gardow, PE. “Whenever the Legislature finds itself needing quick, easy cash, it turns to the public works assistance account. This time they need to keep their promise to return funding next year and find another source for the transportation package.”
The board noted the state already diverts more than $150 million a year to help cover K-12 basic education.




** - Correction: The print version of this story mistakenly described the extra peak lane on the U.S. 2 eastbound trestle as an HOV lane. It is not.

*** -- Correcton: A section in the print version that states money was removed from the 522/Paradise Lake Road project in the adjustments within the 2022 Transportation budget is incorrect. The state Department of Transportation said no money was taken out of the 522/Paradise Lake Road project account, and that prior allocations to this project are locked-in to the project. The error reported from legislative text dictating project line-item adjustments and reductions within the 2022 Supplemental Transportation Budget as its key source. Line-items that show the money budgeted for 2022 was reduced does not mean that it was "taken away," just that spending is delayed.
The original section reporting on this and references to this are removed from the online version.

The Tribune regrets the errors.



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