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New construction will have to wait for UW-Bothell

State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, believes eight years is just too long to wait.

“We are very fortunate to have the University of Washington, Bothell in our community,” she said.

But under the state budget proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, the branch campus will not receive any funding for new construction — namely, a long-anticipated science and technology building — until 2015.

What then would become UW-Bothell’s third building would not be completed until 2017.

According to McAuliffe, state officials originally scheduled construction of the science building to begin this year, with completion arriving in 2011. The start date then was delayed until 2013, with completion again arriving two years later.

“We have been pushed out twice and we should not be pushed out again,” McAuliffe said regarding Gregoire’s budget proposal.

McAuliffe added the building is a natural for the Bothell campus considering its proximity to Bothell’s technology corridor.

“It’s an economic-development engine for our community,” she said.

Cost of the new building has been estimated at $68 million. McAuliffe noted the state already has — or will, by the time the project is completed — sunk approximately $50 million into new highway ramps to help move traffic to the UW-Bothell campus. She added the ramps were built in order to allow the campus to grow as originally envisioned.

Legislators have the final word on the state’s next spending plan. McAuliffe urged anyone interested in backing funding for UW-Bothell to contact their own state representative or any others.

“Let the legislature know this is an important issue,” she said.

McAuliffe also said she has enlisted the help of State Rep. Mark Ericks, D-Bothell, vice-chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Ericks’ office did not return a phone call requesting comment.

Kelly Snyder, director of government and community relations for UW-Bothell, agreed the science building would be a welcome addition to the branch campus.

“We see the demand for it right now,” she said, adding the school routinely gets calls from employers saying they could use students trained in science, math and technology. Further, she noted the campus has exceeded its current design capacity.

Snyder said UW-Bothell’s enrollment currently sits at about 1,900, while existing buildings are designed to accommodate 1,800 students.

According to Snyder, the design process for the science building is well on its way.

“As soon as we get some funds, we would be ready to go,” she said.

But if McAuliffe seemed convinced funding for the new building can be found, Snyder is not as optimistic.

“There’s not a lot of capital dollars available right now,” she said.

Snyder confirmed McAuliffe’s assertion that the science building had been approved by UW officials.

“There’s a lot of buildings the UW needs ... Our building is not at the top of the list,” Snyder added.

As they wait for movement regarding campus expansion, Snyder said local officials are attempting to deal with the growing student population by adjusting class sizes. She also talked about the possibility of installing some temporary, modular buildings on the campus grounds.

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