Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson could simply hit send and email the city’s request that the I-90/SR 18 improvement project be added back to the State Legislature’s Transportation Bill.
But instead he is hand delivering the request at today’s March 26th House Transportation Committee Public Hearing – hoping the personal gesture has more impact.
The Snoqualmie Economic Development Commission recommended the mayor make this important request after the Senate’s $15 billion Transportation Bill overlooked the safety and congestion issues at the busy interchange – a freight and vehicular bottleneck area that the WSDOT has already spent millions studying and says needs fixing.
The plan is there – calling for widening of often dangerous SR 18 from Issaquah Hobart Road (and over steep Tiger Mountain) to I-90 and adding westbound flyover interchange ramps. But the plan sits unfunded.
It’s been over a decade since Washington made a large investment in its transportation system. City leaders worry they don’t have time to wait that long again.
Snoqualmie Economic Development Chair President Carolyn Simpson says if the intersection doesn’t get funding in this current transportation bill, it could be another dozen years before it gets brought to the table again.
Simpson believes the I-90/ SR 18 improvements can’t wait another decade, saying, “That is too long and the problems at this interchange would grow from a bad dream to a nightmare.”
Tens of thousands of east King County residents now bypass 405 and use SR 18 to access I-90 for jobs. Almost 18 million tons of freight is transported by semi trucks annually along SR 18, a designated T-1 Primary Freight Route and Washington Strategic Freight Corridor.
Drivers waiting at the busy intersection are often backed up onto I-90, which many drivers say is just a bad accident waiting to happen. Accidents on SR-18 at Tiger Mountain frequently close the narrow highway, making a mess of alternate traffic routes through neighboring Eastside cities.
In a recent King 5 report, Auburn’s State Senator and Vice Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, Joe Fain, said he fought for the project to be included, but other projects were priorities. He added that he would love to see the House put the project in their transportation package so it can be discussed again.
At a March Town Hall Meeting in North Bend, 5th District Representatives Chad Magendanz and Jay Rodne both stated they were working to get the 90/18 interchange project included and if it was not, they would vote no. Rodne has repeatedly stated the project is his biggest priority this legislative session.
According to Mayor Larson, “Vehicular volumes at the I-90/SR 18 interchange have reached critical mass and are affecting regional operations.”
Now it’s time to see if the legislature agrees.
See Mayor Larson’s Letter to the House Transportation Committee HERE.