Sen. Joe Fain, (R-Auburn), who helped craft the supplemental transportation-budget proposal passed by the Legislature late Thursday, says he made sure the plan would support important South King County projects in a cost-conscious way.
"We need to continue improving our transportation infrastructure so commuters and freight can move more safely and efficiently," said Fain, a member of the transportation budget leadership team and deputy minority ranking member of the Senate Transportation Committee. The final agreement, however, did not include a general tax increase as had been requested by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year.
"We need additional investment in our roads and infrastructure," continued Fain, "but now is a dangerous time to burden families and businesses with new taxes while we emerge from a recession."
Instead, Fain and his budget leadership colleagues used savings from competitive bidding to advance projects in the Puget Sound core, primarily by reallocating $40 million in savings from a lower-than-expected bid on work under way on Interstate 405 north of Bellevue, to the congested interchange between State Route 167 and I-405.
The budget also dedicates $5 million toward planning an expansion of State Route 509 from SeaTac through Des Moines, creating an additional corridor to ease crowding and improve freight mobility on Interstate 5 through South King County.
In 2011, Rep. Dave Upthegrove of Des Moines, and Fain joined to create a bipartisan work group to advocate for the SR 509 project.
"These funds will keep the design process moving along for SR 509, a key corridor for our valley-area manufacturers and distributors," continued Fain.
The supplemental budget also includes $300,000 in funding to study demand and logistics for adding an Amtrak stop at the Auburn train station.
"Auburn is here because of our rich rail heritage. Every night I can hear the trains from my bedroom window. While I wish they'd keep their horns to a minimum while I'm trying to fall asleep, I know how much our community depends on the movement of goods to and from the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Our city can look to its past as we plan our future by giving Amtrak service fair consideration."
Fain also advocated for funding to complete the connection between SR 167 and the Port of Tacoma, which received a total of $3 million in the budget for right-of-way land acquisition and project design.
"Linking SR 167 and the Port of Tacoma is essential for improving our ability to move goods manufactured in or distributed from South King County to the world. It also will benefit car traffic by alleviating pressure from I-5.
"I am particularly appreciative of the South Sound Chamber's legislative coalition and its support of South King County projects," said Fain. "Too often, our region takes a backseat to the mega-projects of Seattle and the Eastside. This budget is a major step forward for many of the core priorities that this organization has advocated for over the years and I look forward to continue working with it on improving our area's transportation infrastructure."
"We are pleased that Sen. Fain understands and is advocating for our 'complete corridor' concept when it comes to the transportation needs of the South Sound," stated Nancy Wyatt, Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce president and chief operating officer. "Keeping our critical infrastructure projects alive and moving forward is what makes this region's significant economic engine continue to fire on all cylinders."
The Lea Hill community in Auburn also gained $100,000 in new funding for safety improvements as part of the state's "pathways to schools" program.