Legislature approves new transportation budget that speeds up key projects in King County

The new state transportation budget approved Friday expedites completion of key congestion relief and safety projects benefiting South King County residents. Sen. Joe Fain worked to begin construction years earlier for new interchanges between Highway 18 and Interstate 90 in Snoqualmie and in Covington, routes used frequently by South King County drivers.

“Gridlock on our roads causes major problems for commuters and businesses,” said Fain, of Auburn. “Telling people that congestion-relief projects will not even begin for six years does not work when they are already stuck in traffic today.”

Transportation investments passed in 2015 included funding for a new interchange between Interstate 90 and State Route 18 in Snoqualmie. That area has become one of the busiest interchanges in the state and a major choke point for commuters going to and from South King County. Under the previous transportation budget, work would not have begun until 2023 at the earliest. Instead the updated 2017-19 budget allows work to begin in the next two years.

The Covington project will connect State Route 516 to State Route 18 through a new development, reducing congestion on both highways. It was originally slated to receive the majority of state funding between 2019 and 2021. Under the new plan the City of Covington can fund the project up front with the state repaying the city to expedite completion.

The total transportation investment package provides an additional $8.7 billion to statewide infrastructure based on existing tax revenues. It passed on the final day lawmakers met in Olympia during the regular 2017 legislative session.