With nearly $90 million in new funding recently added and made available for the 12th District, the total district benefit approaches $400 million. This includes preservation and maintenance, rail rehabilitation, and grant funding. The plan also includes $640 million for SR-18 widening and $10 million for SR-522, two projects very important to King County and Snohomish County stakeholders in Sen. Hawkins’ future 12th District.
Sen. Brad Hawkins of the 12th District, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, voted for the final “Move Ahead Washington” plan today on the last day of the Legislature’s 60-day session.
The House and Senate transportation negotiators announced their “conference committee” agreement yesterday for Senate Bill 5974, the 16-year, $16.9 billion plan. Hawkins appreciated the approach taken by the negotiators to primarily utilize funds from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the previously approved Climate Commitment Act, and a $2 billion one-time transfer from the state’s general fund. The package also includes an ongoing commitment from the operating budget for various levels of funding.
While Hawkins wished for stronger language for Confluence Parkway, he recognizes the political challenges associated with including a significant additional project in a plan that had largely been fully negotiated in advance. Hawkins is grateful for the funds set aside in the package to match the federal Infra grant, support intended for the Wenatchee Valley and technically only available to Confluence Parkway and the West Seattle Bridge projects, the latter project of which is already underway and funded.
The underlying transportation plan focuses on preservation and maintenance of the state’s existing system and includes $24 million in direct transit support to Link Transit as part of the $3.5 billion in grant programs that local stakeholders can apply for (roughly $73 million per district over 16 years), and $150 million for railroad rehabilitation in and near the 12th District. Furthermore, the proposal includes $2.3 billion in statewide funding for much-needed preservation and maintenance, the equivalent, on average, of roughly $48 million per district over 16 years.
Hawkins does not favor the $16.9 billion plan’s reliance on a $57-million-per-year transfer from the state’s Public Works Assistance Account. He has long been a supporter of the state public works program. He anticipates, beginning in the next budget cycle, that legislators will restructure the capital budget to remedy funding to the Public Works Assistance Account.
As for the matching funds eligible to Confluence Parkway, much like other items in the 16-year package, the actual appropriations will need to occur in a future year when the project is actually scheduled for construction, likely the 2025-2027 budget cycle.
“These long-term transportation packages have always been somewhat of a ‘leap of faith’ because the Legislature can only allocate funds in each two-year budget, but I sure appreciated the matching funds inserted to help a project like Confluence Parkway,” said Hawkins.
“With any budget or significant bill, there are usually things to like and things not to like, but on balance this long-term plan is a helpful step for the state transportation system and the current and future 12th District,” he added.
Hawkins said he thanks the city of Wenatchee, Link Transit, Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council, and Congresswoman Kim Schrier for their direct advocacy with state legislators this session.
“I’m proud of our community for working together at multiple levels of government and across political lines to take a step forward toward something so significant,” Hawkins said. “The Wenatchee Valley has a long and proud history of thinking big, working together, and getting things done.”