West approach to 520 bridge seeking approved status

PSRC’s Executive Board may give final approval to the west approach of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement project this week.

The final stage of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement project is scheduled to begin in 2018.

The Washington State Department of Transportation submitted a request to the board to change the status of the SR 520/I-5 to Lake Washington project from Conditionally Approved for Right of Way to Approved.

The project will reconstruct the SR 520 corridor from I-5 to the new Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. It includes highway lids in Seattle’s Montlake and Roanoke neighborhoods, the south half of a new west approach bridge, and a replacement Portage Bay Bridge and a second drawbridge over the Montlake Cut. The new structures will meet current design standards for earthquakes. The lane configuration of the new SR 520 will have six lanes including two HOV lanes, bicycle/pedestrian facilities, and the ability to accommodate future light rail.

The SR 520 project as a whole received Conditional Approval for Right of Way status in June 2004.

Connecting Washington, the transportation package adopted by the Legislature in 2015, provided the final $1.64 billion needed for the west approach, which fully funded the SR 520 Bridge Replacement project.

PSRC began funding the project with the original Trans-Lake Study in 1997.

WSDOT is preparing to begin the first phase of construction in 2018.

See the full agenda for the Executive Board meeting here or watch it live.

Congratulations, Dow Constantine!

King County Executive Dow Constantine will be named Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine tonight in Washington, DC.

“It is an honor to represent King County on a national stage as we are recognized as a model of what a forward-thinking region can accomplish when we work together,” said Constantine. “At a time of uncertainty at the national level, we continue to make progress toward being a more just, inclusive community where all have the chance to achieve their full potential. We are embracing the future, upholding the American promise of hope, freedom and opportunity for all.”

This video shows some of what the region has accomplished by working together:

Every year since 1994, Governing has honored individual state and local government officials for outstanding accomplishment by naming them Public Officials of the Year. Readers are invited to nominate individuals who have had a notable positive impact on their department or agency, community or state.

Executive Constantine will be honored alongside the Governor of Massachusetts, the Mayor of Denver, and five others.

Dow was selected for his Best Starts for Kids initiative as well as his work on ORCA Lift and increasing health insurance enrollment.

As Executive of King County, Dow Constantine has been a member of PSRC’s Executive Board since his election in 2009.

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Roger Millar named new Secretary of Transportation

Governor Jay Inslee has announced the appointment of Roger Millar as secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation, effective immediately. Millar, who had been serving as deputy secretary for the past year, was appointed acting secretary in February.

Roger Millar is the new Secretary of Transportation for Washington State.

Roger Millar is the new Secretary of Transportation for Washington State.

Millar oversees an agency of 6,800 employees with responsibility for 18,600 lane miles of highway, 3,800 bridges, general aviation airports, passenger- and freight-rail programs and Washington State Ferries, the nation’s largest ferry system.

“Roger has proven to be a well-respected leader with an impressive ability to bring people together and find sensible solutions to difficult problems,” Inslee said. “He will be overseeing our historic new transportation investment package and is already bringing innovative efficiencies to WSDOT that will save time and money on projects across the state.”

Millar has nearly 40 years of experience in the transportation and planning area. He has worked in construction, design, planning, research, policy development, management and administration in both the public and private sectors. Millar has served as public works director, city and county planning director, and vice president of a multinational engineering firm. Before joining WSDOT, he worked for five years as vice president of a national not-for-profit organization providing technical assistance to state transportation agencies in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont. Millar was elected a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1999.

Millar has already been serving on PSRC’s Executive Board as the acting secretary and will continue to in his new role.


Critical urban freight corridors in the region

With the adoption of Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a new feature of America’s surface transportation law is its emphasis on freight.

These routes could be designated by the Executive Board as Critical Urban Freight Corridors, which would make them eligible for new federal funding.

These routes could be designated by the Executive Board as Critical Urban Freight Corridors, which would make them eligible for new federal funding.

The new law establishes a new National Highway Freight Network and over the next five years will direct $6.3 billion in federal formula funding to states to invest in infrastructure and operations that improve the efficient movement of freight on that network.

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell championed the creation of the new funding source within the FAST Act.

PSRC is leading up the charge, in close coordination with WSDOT and the FAST Freight Advisory Committee, for the region to identify critical urban freight corridors to be included on the National Highway Freight Network in order to better compete for the new funding.

The recommendation includes routes in Everett, Seattle, Tukwila, Frederickson, and SKIA.

The Executive Board is scheduled to act on the recommendation on July 28.

In addition, the board will finalize the list of projects recommended to receive PSRC funding and enjoy a presentation on data trends in the region. See the full agenda for the meeting here.

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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.




Regional growth center proposed for University Place

Downtown University Place could become Puget Sound’s newest regional growth center.

The University Place center would include three districts in downtown.

The University Place center would include three districts: Town Center, 27th Street Business District, and Narrows Plaza.

On Thursday, the Executive Board will take up the city’s application for regional center designation.

As a regional growth center, downtown University Place would be a focus for new jobs and housing over the coming decades.

University Place envisions the downtown center will have a variety of housing types, employment, shopping and other activities close together.  It will be a vibrant destination for regional shopping, arts,  entertainment, and special community events.

The four-county region is expected to add more than a million more people by 2040.

VISION 2040’s growth strategy distributes the largest share of growth to metropolitan and core cities — places with designated regional growth centers that are already connected by major transportation corridors and high capacity transit.

If the application is approved, University Place would become the region’s 28th growth center.

The meeting will start at 10 a.m. in the Boardroom at 1011 Western Avenue, 5th floor, and will be streamed on the web.  The full agenda is available here.

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“Critical level of frustration” on state transportation funding spurs regional focus

The PSRC’s Executive Board has directed the agency to support preparation of a potential Sound Transit 3 ballot measure in 2016.

Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci

Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci says the region needs “a plan C or D” if the state legislature can’t find new funding for transportation

The Board also tasked the Transportation Policy Board with developing a recommendation on a potential regional alternative to a comprehensive statewide transportation package, should the state legislature fall short again in 2015.

Noting a “critical level of frustration on transportation funding,” Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci said “the region needs to be prepared if the state won’t move on transportation.”

“We’re getting to a crisis in Snohomish County,” said Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, who emphasized light rail’s importance to the future of the state largest manufacturing center – centered at Boeing’s growing assembly plants at Paine Field.

“We need to move ST3 to a vote in 2016,” Stephanson said.

Later yesterday, Sound Transit’s board held a workshop to consider next steps toward a 2016 ballot measure.

Over the next two months Sound Transit will make key decisions on moving toward a 2016 ballot, which would require new tools approved by the state legislature to proceed.

The PSRC’s Transportation Policy Board, led by Mayor Balducci, will begin consideration of next steps for the 2015 legislature on November 13th.

You can watch yesterday’s PSRC Executive Board meeting here.