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Improvements to state Route 410 in question

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By Brian Beckley

The Courier-Herald

City and state officials met with representatives from Washington Department of Transportation March 29 to discuss funding shortages for improvements scheduled to be made to state Route 410 between 214th Avenue and 234th Avenue.

As a result, Rep. Jan Shabro, R-Auburn, has requested an additional $12 million to be added to the state's transportation budget to make up for a shortfall between the $6 million budgeted for the project and the estimated $20 million completion cost.

The project was to be paid for through the 2003 nickel gas tax, but the DOT's estimate from 1997 proved to be too low.

"Once the gas tax was passed we realized we didn't have enough money," said DOT Assistant Region Manager for Project Development Pasco Bakotich.

According to Bakotich, the reasons for the shortfall were three-fold, including inflation in property acquisition and construction costs as well as new stormwater requirements requiring more right-of-way.

"It's kind of a cumulation of issues," Bakotich said.

Bakotich said the department would go ahead with plans to re-align the 233rd Avenue/234th Avenue intersection.

Plans call for the two roads to be re-aligned to create a single intersection at 234th with 233rd becoming a right-in/right out only.

Bakotich said a request for bids on the project is expected in the fall of 2006 with completion in 2007. During the intersection project, a large stretch of SR410 will be widened and graded in preparation for paving and striping.

Councilman Neil Johnson said the meeting was to help remind the state of the need to finish this project.

"This was part of the nickel tax put in place five years ago," Johnson said. "I think Bonney Lake's been taken advantage of. I don't think we were a priority in the state's mind."

Shabro said she requested the additional funding, but admits approval is unlikely unless the Legislature votes for a tax increase.

"If we vote for an increase in the gas tax, I think it's pretty likely," she said.

Shabro also said a meeting was scheduled for Monday with representatives from Congressman Dave Reichert's, R-Bellvue, office to discuss possible federal funding for the project. Reichert is a member of the House of Representatives Transportation Committee.

Shabro said there is an opportunity to create a funding partnership between the county, the city and the state to expedite a traffic light at the 233rd/234th Avenue intersection.

Senator Pam Roach, R-Auburn, met with Bakotich near the intersection Friday to see the road for themselves and discuss construction plans. Roach also requested in the Senate budget the additional $12 needed to complete the work.

"I think it's a critical situation," Roach said, adding that she worried about school buses turning onto 410 during high-traffic times.

"Anytime we have head-on traffic and a lot of people, it's a very dangerous situation," she said.

Roach said the project would eventually receive the necessary funding, but it was a matter of when.

"We compete for these funds," she said.

Brian Beckley can be reached at bbeckley@courierherald.com.

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