After the Nov. 5 election and approval of Tim Eyman’s I-976, Gov. Jay Inslee directed WSDOT to postpone several projects not yet underway.
UPDATE: I-976 was put on hold Wednesday, Nov. 27 by a King County Superior Court judge, while Seattle and others argue their legal case against the initiative, The Seattle Times reported.
Included within these now on-hold projects is the SR 509 Completion Stage 1 project, which would extend SR 509 with the intention to ease congestion on I-5, add a southern access point to Sea-Tac Airport, and improve service between industrial districts by allowing general purpose traffic and trucks to bypass I-5, SR 99 and local streets:
“It is clear that the majority of voters objected to current car tab levels. It is also clear that this vote means there will be adverse impacts on our state transportation system.
“I believe Washingtonians recognize the need to support a safe and reliable transportation system which includes buses, light rail, and ferries and is essential to support our robust economy, ease congestion and fight climate change.
“Accordingly, in response to the will of the people, I am taking immediate action. I have directed the Washington State Department of Transportation to postpone projects not yet underway. I have also asked other state agencies that receive transportation funding, including the Washington State Patrol and Department of Licensing, to defer non-essential spending as we review impacts.
“I will work with legislators, agency leadership and stakeholders on how best to respond to the impacts of this initiative.
“I remain committed to finding solutions to meet Washington’s growing and urgent transportation needs.”
A list (PDF file) that was released this week reflects the delay of the following:
- Construction projects that add capacity to the transportation system scheduled to go out to advertisement in the next six months (including any unexecuted consultant agreements related to these projects).
- State funded local agency projects with no executed agreement or projects that have a portion of the funds not under agreement.
- Rail grant projects with no executed agreements.
- Public Transportation grant projects with no executed agreement and/or no purchase order of equipment or vehicles have yet been placed.
WSDOT is assuming a delay of these projects for at least six months; here’s more from the agency:
The work to determine which projects are postponed is not simple, nor a task taken lightly. This list reflects deliberative work as transportation projects are complex. Each project is unique in terms of current project phase, how they are funded and structured– often a blend of local, state and federal dollars – and all required close examination to determine what postponement could mean from a funding and contractual perspective.
By delaying the obligation of funds, WSDOT provides the Governor and Legislature more funding flexibility to determine how to implement I-976 during the legislative session. It is important to note that projects and grants not included in the list may also be affected by legislative deliberations to amend the 2019-21 transportation budget to reflect passage of I-976. Additionally, all new grant-funded project solicitations will be on hold until we are given further direction by the Legislature and Governor.
This list does not include preservation, specific safety-related projects, fish passage, or specific grant projects designed to serve or keep vulnerable populations safe. Preservation and safety projects will move forward and are critical to the safe operation of our multimodal transportation system. Fish passage projects are also moving forward to ensure the state meets the federal court injunction deadline. Grant projects that are designed to serve or keep vulnerable populations safe include programs such as bike/ped safety grants, safe routes to school grants and public transportation programs like state special needs and rural mobility grants.