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Thurston County gets ramp meters, buses and vans in state transportation budget

The state Legislature on Sunday approved a two-year, $9.8 billion transportation budget that builds on the 2015 Connecting Washington package.

“This budget addresses the transportation needs of our state in a fiscally responsible way,” Sen. Steve Hobbs, the Lake Stevens Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Transportation committee, said in a statement. “This was a good, bipartisan effort to keep our promises and move our state forward.”

“This is about adapting to changing times and technology,” Rep. Jake Fey, the Tacoma Democrat and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said when the bill was released earlier this year. “Our state’s population has grown by 1 million in the past few years because of our booming economy, but that growth has put a great strain on our highways, ferries and transportation system. We’re proposing smart, cost-effective ways to deal with those changes.”

New projects include $35 million for creation of a project office and predesign work for the replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge across the Columbia River.

Ferry investments include providing for the start of building a new 144-car hybrid electric vessel, along with converting one existing ferry. The ferries division received $495,000 for planning work needed to prepare for hybrid-electric vessel terminal charging investments.

The budget also includes $160,000 for a vessel noise reduction study aimed at helping protect the endangered southern resident orcas.

“I’m proud of the bipartisan cooperation and outcome of this budget,” Hobbs said. “This is a good budget, but it is a bare-bones budget. Our state has many transportation needs and lacks the means to meet them: fish culverts, replacement of the I-5 bridge in Vancouver, the U.S. 2 trestle in Snohomish County and many other projects large and small across the state.”

The following are some of the major projects for Thurston County:

$42.5 million to replace the Olympic Region Maintenance and Administrative Facility with a new facility at a site on Marvin Road.

$31.4 million for Route 510/Yelm Loop Phase 2. The project would construct the second stage of a new alignment for Route 510 through the City of Yelm to relieve congestion and improve safety.

$19.5 million to reconstruct the I-5/Marvin Road/Route 510 interchange to accommodate planned growth in the vicinity of the interchange. Improvements will be completed along Route 510/Marvin Road between Quinault Drive and Hogum Bay Road, as well as the ramp terminals at the interchange. The existing bridge will be widened, and a dedicated southbound lane to Hogum Bay Road is included. Other mobility improvements include re-striping and signal modifications.

$3.9 million to fund final design and the second phase of renovation and expansion of Intercity Transit’s maintenance and operation base. Phase 2 includes the development of a Regional Vanpool Service Center and associated facilities to support both current and expanded regional vanpool services.

$3.1 million for Intercity Transit to purchase four buses to provide high performance peak hour service that will expand service to reduce travel times.

$1 million to add 13 new express trips to the current Express 612 along the heavily congested I-5 corridor between Thurston County (Olympia/Lacey) and Pierce County (Lakewood/Tacoma). The added trips will fill service gaps in morning and afternoon peak periods and mid-day service periods and improve connections with regional services at Pierce and Sound Transit transportation hubs.

$550,000 to install ramp meters at four locations on southbound I-5 in the Olympia area: Henderson Boulevard, Pacific Avenue, Sleater-Kinney Road, and Martin Way. A traffic camera also will be installed at Henderson Boulevard.

Funding for the following projects covers multiple counties

$2.25 million Fund to complete a National and State Environmental Policy Act analysis to identify mid- and long-term environmental impacts associated with future improvements along the I-5 corridor from Tumwater to DuPont.

$220,000 to develop a targeted approach to growing the vanpool program through focus groups and partnerships with business associations, including an educational campaign.

$32,000 for improvements on I-5 from Mellen Street in Lewis County to just south of the Grand Mound Interchange in Thurston County. Lanes will be constructed between the existing Mellen Street and Harrison Avenue Interchanges. I-5 north of Harrison Avenue will be widened from two lanes to three lanes in each direction.

Source: Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program Committee and Office of Financial Management