Hawkins proposes Highway 2 traffic flow and safety bill

In an effort to improve traffic flow and safety along U.S. Highway 2 between Wenatchee and Monroe, 12th District Sen. Brad Hawkins has introduced a measure to identify improvements for preservation, maintenance, and new projects for the curvy and congested highway.

Hawkins, a member of the Senate’s Transportation Committee, has proposed the bill with his colleague, Sen. Keith Wagoner of the 39th District. The two senators serve neighboring legislative districts now but are expected to share communities along Highway 2 in the coming year following the completion of the state’s redistricting process.

“Communities along the corridor have expressed growing concerns about safety and traffic flow,” Hawkins said. “Everyone knows Highway 2 is dangerous and congested, so let’s hear from the communities, assemble the information we have, and identify needed improvements.”

Hawkins’ proposal, Senate Bill 5603, calls for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to conduct public outreach with communities along the highway, including public meetings involving Wenatchee, Cashmere, Leavenworth, Skykomish, Index, Gold Bar, Sultan, and Monroe. The bill also calls for WSDOT to report to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2022, with a summary of existing analysis along the corridor and recommended investments.

The timing of WSDOT’s report to the Legislature’s transportation committees is critical, Hawkins says, because he believes the Legislature will consider the next large-scale transportation package one year from now during the 2023 session.

For Hawkins, projects like Wenatchee’s Confluence Parkway – the proposed second bridge across the Wenatchee River – will continue to be a high priority while also supporting the needs of other communities, like those along Highway 2 and other areas in his district. Hawkins said he is thankful that the Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council completed a US 2 Upper Wenatchee Valley corridor study in April 2020 for a portion of the highway, identifying potential improvements near Leavenworth.

Hawkins has prefiled the bill for consideration in the 2022 legislative session, which starts Jan. 10.