8/21/2014

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State transportation proposal earmarks millions for Yakima County

State transportation proposal earmarks millions for Yakima County
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Lawmakers in Olympia have tried and failed. They have yet to pass a statewide transportation package that would pay for local projects.

I sifted through the latest proposal totaling almost twelve billion to find what would mean improvements for our region.

"For Yakima County, we have issues getting access to areas that can be developed," said Yakima County's Transportation Engineer Manager, Kent McHenry. "We have issues being able to maintain structures. So, getting a comprehensive transportation bill in place is important to Yakima and the state."

The most recent project list allocates almost $100 million toward a new east-west corridor connecting Terrace Heights with Yakima.
It would include changes to the existing I-82 interchange. The point? To reduce in-town congestion.

"It's gonna help. I know it will."

Neighbor Sarah Guel says the traffic is too much sometimes. "It becomes impatient. Especially in the morning, lunch hour, when everybody's getting out of work."

McHenry says the situation is so bad that on a service scale of A to F, the I-82 corridor rates an E.

"We're not good today," he said. "It's projected to get worse. We're going to go to F in the near future, which means you typically can't make it through there during rush hour."

Another project would include $400 million to widen Snoqualmie Pass.

Paying for all this would come from a hike to the gas tax -- 11.5 cents over three years. Vehicle fees could also go up.

Local State Senator Curtis King is a Co-Chair of the State's Transportation Committee. He says before taxes are raised, he wants to see changes to the way we pay for road projects.

"The Majority Coalition is saying we have to have reforms before going to our citizens and asking for their hard-earned dollars."

Although Governor Inslee hopes for a package by the end of the year, Senator King told KIMA he's not sure about the timeline. Last week's special session didn't include a deal and a new session has not been set.
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