King County Proposes New Taxing District to Fund Road Services; Probably Won’t Mean More for Unincorporated Roads

Remember when it snowed last month?  Remember how Snoqualmie Valley School opened on time, just as the snow was beginning to fall and stick to local roads?

If you navigated Valley roads that morning, you may have noticed a difference between roads maintained by the cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie and roads maintained by King County Roads Division.  The big difference was (in most cases) city roads were plowed and sanded, while it was tough going on many county roads.kingcountysnowplow

King County Roads warned in October that road service in unincorporated areas was being reduced due to a funding reduction.  As a result, the number of roads that would be plowed in the event of snow would be drastically reduced from earlier years.  In fact, in the upper Snoqualmie Valley, the number of roads that King County said it would plow was reduced to four.

Yesterday, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a plan to raise transportation revenues that could help provide funding for county roads.  That “plan B” would create a Transportation Benefit District, utilizing vehicle fees and a sales tax to fund Metro bus service as well as city and county transportation departments.

Constantine said last November that the county would pursue this course if the state legislature did not approve a funding package to prevent cuts to Metro bus service and raise revenues for roads.

The proposed Transportation Benefit District would have to be approved by voters later this year. If approved, the proposed 10-year transportation district would raise millions county-wide and start delivering transportation funding in late 2014 or early 2015

But according to Brenda Bauer, King County Road Services Division Director, the move “would not address the structural funding deficit faced by the county’s Road Services Division.”

Bauer explained the tax structure in place today doesn’t provide the funding to do the work residents in unincorporated King County, including many parts of the Snoqualmie Valley, have come to expect.

Bauer said, if passed, the amount of transportation district tax funds scheduled to go to road needs in unincorporated King County during the first year would be about $6.2 million.  That would only help fund service priorities, including pavement and bridge preservation, drainage and flood protection, and general maintenance on local roads.  She stated it would not, though, restore service levels to what they were before the recession.

King County Roads is still awaiting the results of the latest legislative session, which began on Monday, to see what the transportation funding holds for our unincorporated county roads.

According to the King County Roads Division website, two stretches of roadway in the upper Snoqualmie Valley are in need of reconstructing and without funding, these projects are at risk of not happening.  Those projects are: Lake Dorothy Road At SE Middle Fork Rod and Mill Pond Road from SE Stearns Road To SE Reinig Road.

For winter 2014, these are the upper Snoqualmie Valley unincorporated roads King County says it will plow and maintain in the event of snow:

  • Preston-Fall City Roads from I-90 to SR 202
  • SE North Bend Way from I-90 to North Bend city limits
  • 436th Ave SE/Cedar Falls Way from North Bend city limits up thru Wilderness Rim area
  • Portion of Uplands Way SE



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