A new 16-year, $16 billion transportation package signed into law by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee finalizes funding for the western stretch of State Route 520, completing the effort to rebuild the portion of highway from the new floating bridge on Lake Washington to Interstate 5.
With the full corridor funding finally in place, Washington State Dept of Transportation will spend the next two years in final planning and design and right-of-way acquisition as officials prep for launching major construction on the project in 2017.
Connecting to the world’s longest floating bridge, the final portion of the project includes a new Portage Bay Bridge, two highway lids, a new, second bascule bridge across the Montlake Cut for north-south travel, a new West Approach Bridge South to carry traffic to the floating bridge and other smaller projects.
The overall 16-year package also includes a major upgrade to the North Spokane Corridor, the State Route 167/State Route 509 Gateway Project and the widening of Interstate 5 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“I laid out a transportation vision for our state in which transportation truly works as a system,” says Inslee in a statement. “No more east versus west. No more urban versus rural. No more roads versus transit. This package represents the largest single investment in transportation in state history. I appreciate the hard work legislators on both sides of the aisle put into crafting a package that will maximize these dollars so we can grow jobs, improve safety and provide commuters more choices all throughout Washington.”
The package includes $1.4 billion for highway maintenance and preservation, $1.3 billion for non-highway projects such as bike paths, rail and transit, $602 million for ferries and other investments related to fish barrier removal, bridge preservation and freight rail improvements.
The package also authorizes Sound Transit to seek voter-approval for $15 billion to extend light rail as far north as Everett and as far south as Tacoma.
Projects will be funded largely by additional gas tax revenue with a 7-cent increase starting Aug. 1, 2015, and a 4.9-cent increase on July 1, 2016.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.