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Bothell, Bellevue big winners in state transportation funds
While some work had been previously announced, Gov. Chris Gregoire traveled to Bellevue March 30 to outline how the state intends to use $70 million in federal stimulus money, including some major funding for projects in Bellevue and Bothell.
The governor was joined by Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger, Rep. Deb Eddy of the 48th Legislative District, Bothell Deputy Mayor Sandy Guinn and a host of other politicians to talk about how the state plans to use its portion of the massive spending package.
As previously announced by the Washington State Department of Transportation, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $40 million for an additional lane on Interstate 405 between Northeast 195th Street and Highway 527 in Bothell.
Gregoire and others also talked $30 million for new multi-level ramps at the I-405/Highway 520 interchange in Bellevue. The two projects represent over 14 percent of the $491 million dedicated to Washington’s transportation needs in the federal stimulus bill.
In Bothell, the 405 project will move forward with unusual speed, according to WSDOT’s Denice Cieri, a deputy director for project development. The state expects to award the work in August with the new lane open for traffic by December 2010.
“The area has quite a lot of congestion,” Cieri said and the project on the table is aimed directly at easing that problem.
Cieri added that even during peak traffic hours, the additional lane could increase travel speeds by up to 25 mph. A WSDOT analysis showed the project exceeded a 4:1 benefit to cost ratio, a figure Cieri described as “very, very good.”
“The bang for the buck is really there,” she said.
Regarding traffic flow during the construction work, Cieri said drivers should experience minimal problems. Work largely will take place to one side of the road with little need to block existing lanes.
The ramps in Bellevue, called “braided ramps,” are expected to eliminate traffic weaves for drivers on northbound 405 and eastbound 520 between Northeast Eighth Street and 124th Avenue Northeast. Degginger said the project will provide congestion relief and pave the way for economic development.
“Here on the Eastside, the biggest constraint to our economic development has been transportation capacity,” he added.
Washington’s portion of the federal stimulus package includes funding for 147 localized projects valued at $150 million and 34 state highway projects valued at $341 million.
Gregoire said the stimulus money would create construction jobs, which would in turn generate consumer activity.
“These are great family wage jobs,” she said. “When they (the workers) get that income, they go out and spend it in their local communities.”
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Bothell said the federal stimulus bill would create an estimated 560 jobs for the Puget Sound. Murray was a member of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that helped designate where the transportation funding would go.
Bothell also will benefit from an additional $1.1 million that will go toward the North Creek Trail project, which joins the Burke-Gilman Trail. The multi-use trail will eventually connect the Burke-Gilman in King County with the Interurban Trail at Snohomish County’s McCollum Park.