Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Hopefully, you've been able to enjoy some summer fun in our cool weather. There are a lot of local political activities going on in our communities but it's been a quiet legislative interim so far. However, there are some updates provided below that impact our district.
You can expect another newsletter next month. In the mean time, be sure to contact me if you have questions about these or any other issues of interest to you.
Area transportation projects going smoothly
You may have noticed that construction has begun to replace our historical South Park Bridge. At the time it was closed, it carried up to 20,000 vehicles daily and 14 % of those were trucks. The new, movable bridge will provide wider, safer lanes and be built parallel to the old one. Right now the construction is focused on in-water pier work that needs to be performed during the temporary fish window. You can read more about the project here.
A second project, Strander Boulevard, was advertised for bids last week and construction can begin this fall. This long term project has been in the works for several years and it’s exciting that it’s finally about to come alive! As you may know, it will consist of a multi-lane road connecting Renton with Tukwila providing much needed congestion relief in the area. The road will also connect West Valley Highway (SR 181) and East Valley Road and link to SR 167. There will also be access to Tukwila Station multi-modal transportation center and the Boeing Longacres site. You can read more about the project here.
One last piece of transportation news: The Canadian Border Services Agency has just approved the continuation of the second Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver without charging inspection fees. Good news for those who enjoy riding the train north!
Additional cuts to public services
Public services are expected to take more hits from the effects of our current Great Recession and the long national debt ceiling debate. Last week, Gov. Gregoire announced to directors of state’s agencies they should plan to reduce services by as much as 10 percent to make up a potential $1.7 billion shortfall. If the cuts become necessary, they would take effect in January at the latest. This would be in addition to the $4 billion reduction the Legislature approved just a few months ago.
Discover Pass under review
We all want to keep our parks open and affordable and the Discover Pass is the Legislature’s solution to doing that. However, at least one of its requirements is already creating controversy. The pass was intentionally designed to apply to one vehicle to prevent sharing it with friends, neighbors or other family members and avoid the purchase fee. This protects the revenues needed to keep the parks open and functioning. But residents are frustrated with this and rightfully so.
There are already discussions with the administrative agencies to see if legislation is needed to make them transferrable between vehicles within a family. In addition, the Senate Natural Resources & Marine Waters Committee is monitoring the Discover Pass program, tracking users’ concerns and studying legislative options. Staff is also tracking the revenue raised and will project potential fiscal impacts if changes are made when the Legislature convenes in January.
Redistricting Commission activities
There have been several forums around the state by the Commission and numerous district proposals are floating around. Any changes will be in place in time for the 2012 elections. This is in addition to having another Congressional district carved out. It will be very interesting to see how these changes will impact the political landscape of our traditional districts. Redistricting Commission timelines and ways to participate are here.
Howard Hanson Dam update
The current version of the Howard Hanson Dam fact sheet has been posted on line. It states the Corp of Engineers is on schedule with drainage improvement work and expects to finish in plenty of time for the next flood season. Click here for a direct link to the report.