The Bridges and Roads Task Force held its final meeting on January 20, wrapping up six months of research and brainstorming on solutions for maintaining and preserving unincorporated King County’s aging bridge and road system. The group approved and signed its Final Report and Recommendations and then three members – Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson, former King County Councilmember and State Representative Louise Miller and Futurewise State Policy Director Bryce Yadon – presented the report to King County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember Kathy Lambert.
The presenters focused on the Task Force’s High Impact recommendations and some suggestions for additional efficiencies. Highlights of the High Impact recommendations include: development of new county-wide revenue tools that are tied to inflation, sustainable, long-term, benefit cities and counties, and are not regressive. The Task Force recommends that the county, cities, stakeholders, and the legislature continue to work together on these regional solutions – which could potentially be presented during the 2017 legislative session. The group’s recommendations also include transferring to cities orphan road segments within their boundaries, and finalizing moving urban areas into cities. This may require additional authority from the state legislature and support for recipient cities. The Task Force initially generated 152 ideas and recommendations and narrowed them down to the high and low impact recommendations, and suggestions for further study and evaluation. Read all Task Force recommendations and the final report HERE.
King County’s Road Services Division maintains about 1,500 miles of roads and 181 bridges in the unincorporated areas. To give a sense of scale, the distance between Canada and Mexico is about 1,200 miles. This road network supports more than one million trips every day by people from all parts of the county and beyond. The system for funding maintenance, operation and replacement of county bridges and roads hasn’t been revised in nearly 30 years, and it no longer works. Road Services currently receives about $100 million in revenue per year, but needs in the range of $350 – $500 million annually to maintain, replace and improve the bridge and road system. A number of factors have led to today’s chronic underfunding – nearly three decades of annexations, declining gas tax revenues, and the effects of voter initiatives. Because of the underfunding, it is predicted that some bridges and portions of our roads may have to be restricted or closed as they become unsafe. Long-term regional solutions are necessary to get the county’s road system back on track. Click HERE for map of roads most at risk.
The Bridges and Roads Task Force membership includes a diverse group of community and policy leaders. They represent Skyway, Fall City, Four Creeks and Vashon Island, along with emergency services, unions, the dairy and cattle industry, Washington Bikes and the Boundary Review Board. Membership also includes representatives from Futurewise and the Puget Sound Regional Council, a City of Duvall Councilmember, road experts, a State Senator and House Representative, the Mayor of Snoqualmie and the City Manager of Issaquah.
While this chapter of the Task Force effort has ended, a new one begins. Task Force members will present the Final Report and Recommendations to the King County Council and plan to testify in Olympia to the State Legislature. They will also share their findings with their communities and local organizations to continue build regional partnerships, raise public awareness about the revenue shortfall, and to keep our communities connected. The county will evaluate all the recommendations and will continue work with cities and other stakeholders to identify specific solutions and next steps.