New deadline for federal transportation programs: October 29

With President Obama’s signature, federal transportation programs will stay alive through October 29th.


A new terminal at Coleman Dock is counting on over $150 million in federal funds. The old ferry terminal at Pier 52 in Seattle is on its last legs. (Washington State Ferries conceptual drawing.)

The three month patch cleared the House and Senate this week.

The patch includes enough funding to pay bills through December, but no authority for federal programs beyond October.

It is designed to keep transportation funds flowing, and allow the House and Senate to find common ground on a long-term authorization package before Halloween.

The Senate completed action on a six year authorization this week, with the expectation that the House will follow-up in September.

Within the central Puget Sound region, over 375 projects and programs are counting on $1.6 billion in federal funds over the next three years.

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Governor decides: Clean transportation and clean air

Governor Jay Inslee says the state will pursue a new regulatory cap on carbon emissions – but not a new clean fuel standard.


A new pedestrian bridge connecting Northgate with North Seattle College would receive $10 million in state funding – funding that appears to be secure with Governor Inslee’s decision today. (City of Seattle conceptual design)

With the decision, about $1.2 billion in transportation projects and programs appear primed to proceed as planned.

The projects are at risk if the state pursues a new clean fuel standard prior to 2023.

Governor Inslee had promised to make a “difficult decision.”

“I heard broad agreement that we need both clean transportation and clean air,” the Governor said today, after a week or so of conferring with a variety of interests.

The decision appears to secure the entire $16 billion, 16-year, statewide transportation package enacted just over a week ago.

With the additional new local and regional authority included in the package, it could result in an estimated $26 billion transportation investment within the region.


Expanding access to cultural organizations

More school field trips to the theater and free admission days at museums and zoos could result from new cultural access legislation passed by the legislature.

Governor Inslee signs the bill to authorize cultural access programs that will bring arts, cultural and heritage experiences to more people.

Governor Inslee signs the bill to authorize cultural access programs that will bring arts, cultural and heritage experiences to more people.

ESHB 2263 gives local governments a new tool to expand access to arts and culture, one of the goals of the Regional Economic Strategy aimed at supporting a prosperous economy and enriching quality of life.

The legislation allows counties to seek voter approval of a sales tax increase to fund a cultural access program.

The funds would increase access to educational experiences through cultural organizations, and provide services and facilities for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and other vulnerable populations.

Cultural organizations eligible for support include those that advance science or technology, visual or performing arts, zoology, botany, anthropology, heritage or natural history.

The funds would be aimed at giving more people, regardless of income, a chance to take advantage of these cultural resources.

Cultural access has been a top priority of the Regional Economic Strategy and the effort towards getting legislation passed originated at PSRC a few years ago.


New and improved North Road reopens

Snohomish County celebrated the completion of the North Road project in Bothell this week. The project finished up under budget and two months early.

With new bike lanes and sidewalks, North Road is safer for students at Lynnwood High School.

Cutting the ribbon on the North Road project. With new bike lanes and sidewalks, the road is safer for students going to and from Lynnwood High School.

PSRC provided $8.2 million for the project. A share of the funding was part of an emergency funding action after the Oso landslide in 2014.

In that action, PSRC awarded $5 million to Snohomish County to supplement the construction phase of the North Road project.

The county was able in turn to apply an equal amount of county funding to implement key transportation projects in the Arlington, Darrington and Oso vicinity.

The North Road project includes new sidewalks and bike lanes along both sides of the corridor between Filbert Road and 164th Street Southwest.

The project also added a continuous center turn lane and street lighting. Storm water detention and water quality treatment systems will handle water runoff and retaining walls will help protect and preserve wetland areas.

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Region takes another step towards Eastside light rail

Two East Link light rail projects have cleared environmental, financial and planning requirements to move forward.

East Link is expected to have 50,000 daily riders by 2030.

East Link is expected to have 50,000 daily riders by 2030.

“This is a great day for the region to take another step in finally connecting the Eastside to the light rail system. A big part of the job and population growth in the region will take place on the Eastside, and East Link is an extremely important piece of how we’re going to support the jobs and people headed our way,” said Redmond Mayor John Marchione, President of the Puget Sound Regional Council. 

PSRC’s Executive Board authorized the change in Transportation 2040 project status for Sound Transit East Link Light Rail Extension and Bellevue Way HOV Lanes and Transit Priority.

The board was briefed on the just enacted 2015 state transportation package that could result in an estimated $26 billion in transportation improvements within the region.

About $1.2 billion in funding could be at risk according to a staff analysis by PSRC.  Should the state proceed with enforcement of a new cleaner fuel standard, funds collected for about $1.2 billion in transit, freight, school safety, rail, special needs and other transportation programs would be transferred to a fund restricted for highway purposes starting July 1, 2016.

It is unclear when Governor Jay Inslee will make what he’s called, “a tough decision.”

The board also approved $3 million in funding for Rural Town Centers and Corridors projects and conferred on the results of the 2014 Puget Sound Regional Travel Study.




Smart building workshop August 12

Smart building technology has the potential to help save billions in wasted energy.

The new high performance building pilot shows there is no need to do major retrofits  to make a building smarter.

Smart building technology can improve energy savings without major retrofits.

PSRC is hosting an event to help bring this money and energy savings to local communities.

The workshop will run from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm on August 12th and will cover topics such as funding strategies, partnerships, how to work with public utilities, and how to attract building participants.

To learn more and register, go here.

This work was born out of PSRC’s work to support the clean tech industry cluster, which also launched a few other projects to help mainstream smart buildings.




Transportation fixes advance in Congress – patch or multi-year program by July 31?

The United States Senate has been presented with a new long term transportation extension – but its near term prospects are uncertain.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “a long term package is in the best interest of the country.” Senator Barbara Boxer reminded the Senate that in ten days federal transportation programs “will go bust.” (C-SPAN)

An “agreement in principle” announced today would authorize federal transportation programs for six years, and fund them for three years.

An initial vote to failed amid protests that Senators need time to read the agreement.

Senate action is required by July 31st to keep transportation programs alive.

Last week the House of Representatives approved a funding patch through December 18th.

The House and Senate have ten days to agree on a multi year program, or a short term patch.

Senate leaders have indicated they’re prepared to approve a patch should the long term measure stall.

Within the central Puget Sound region, over 375 projects and programs are counting on $1.6 billion in federal funds over the next three years.



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