Washington State 5th District Representative Jay Rodne has been vocal that improvements for the busy, sometimes dangerous, I-90/SR 18 interchange is one of his top priorities during the 2015 legislative session.
But as the state legislature inches closer to an overdue transportation package, the I-90/SR 18 interchange didn’t make the Senate’s project list.
Some other projects that could ease traffic congestion and increase commerce on the Eastside did make the list, including widening 405 from Renton to Bellevue, I-90 work between Bellevue and Issaquah, finishing the west side of the 520 floating bridge and examining I-90 improvements at Front Street in Issaquah.
The senate passed their transportation package on Monday, March 2, 2015. It now heads to the House Transportation Committee for input, a committee of which Rep. Rodne is a member.
But what about the I-90/SR 18 interchange? The WSDOT has spent millions studying it and says it’s needed.
Over the past 10 years, SR 18 has become the north/south freeway for residents on the Eastside’s eastside; a primary north-south connector linking communities and the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle, the Kent Valley, I-405, eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana. Thousands of commuters regularly use SR 18 to access I-90 for their Eastside jobs and it’s estimated millions of freight tonnage is moved along SR 18 and I-90 each year.
The 2003 Transportation ‘Nickel Funding’ provided $6 million to do the environmental review and preliminary design for the I-90/SR 18 interchange, as well as early design for SR 18 widening from Issaquah Hobart Road to I-90. But the actual project construction is currently still unfunded.
In October 2014, the City of Snoqualmie drafted a letter to the legislature, with the support of the cities of Auburn, Black Diamond, Covington, Maple Valley and North Bend, calling for funding improvements to address the “critical deficiencies” at the I-90/SR 18 interchange AND widen SR 18 to a four-lane highway between I-90 and Issaquah Hobart Road, stating these are the top two transportation priorities for their cities.
Via email, Representative Rodne, who sits on the House Transportation Committee, said he has been negotiating with his house committee colleagues to add the 90/18 interchange to the project list, along with expanding SR 169 from Maple Valley to Renton.
He stated once the Senate votes on their Transportation Package and funding, both matters will be taken up in the House; explaining the senate package is the first step in a long process to get to a final transportation bill in Olympia.
Last week Lincoln VanderVeen, Public Affairs Manager for Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and staff representative to the East King County Chambers of Commerce Legislative Coalition (which Snoqualmie Valley and Greater Black Diamond/Maple Valley Chambers have delegates), made public testimony on behalf of the Coalition to the Senate Transportation Committee in support of the Transportation Package, but reminded committee members that the I-90/SR 18 interchange was missing and to consider it as negotiations continue.
Vander Veen called the project “necessary for commuters, freight mobility, and most importantly, safety.”
According to WSDOT website, if funding became available for 90/18 improvements, their first priority would be to complete design work for the westbound I-90 to westbound SR 18 flyover ramp and the widening of SR 18 from two lanes to four between Deep Creek and I-90. It’s estimated that first phase work would cost around $180 million.
The WSDOT website states the project would improve safety, reduce congestion and improve freight mobility.
Another idea explored over the past year to alleviate congestion at the busy interchange was to relocated the Truck Weigh Station and provide a dedicated on-ramp to westbound I-90 from Snoqualmie Parkway. Rodne was hoping to secure funding for that during the 2014 legislative session, but no transportation package was passed last year.
The Snoqualmie Valley is represented by 5th District Senator Mark Mullet and 5th District Representatives Jay Rodne and Chad Magendanz. They can be reached via email at:
- Mark Mullet: Mark.Mullett@leg.wa.gov
- Jay Rodne: email@example.com
- Chad Magendanz: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can see the list of transportation projects contained in the Senate’s Transportation Package HERE.
You can reach members of the House Transportation Committee HERE.
The 2015 State Legislative Session runs January 12, 2015 – April 26th.
WSDOT SR 18 – Issaquah Hobart Road to I-90 Update