Senators focus on transportation projects in the short session

5th District and 12th District projects include state highway improvements.

As the Washington State Legislature convenes for a short 60-day session, more than 2,800 bills are in consideration.

Sen. Brad Hawkins, who represents the 12th Legislative District, said the session — which began on Jan. 8 and will end on March 7 — expects lawmakers to focus on updates to the operating, transportation and capital budgets for the 2023-2025 biennium.

Hawkins said in a fast-paced session, like this one, passing bills and securing budget items is difficult. However, both Hawkins and Sen. Mark Mullet, who represents the 5th Legislative District, are narrowing their sights on acquiring funding for transportation projects and avoiding delays.

In 2022, the Washington Legislature passed a $17 billion transportation measure that promised to support a package of small and large road projects, road maintenance, transit expansions and more across the state. However, these funds became meager as the cost of construction skyrocketed in the past few years. Projects that the 2022 measure was supposed to cover began to dwindle or be delayed.

Hawkins, who represents communities reaching from Issaquah, Snoqualmie and North Bend to across the Cascades, said as a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, his priorities include completing the State Route 522 project, Highway 2 improvements, State Route 18 projects and State Route 202/203 improvements.

“It could be several years before all these projects are fully funded, but it is helpful to continue to raise awareness,” he added.

Mullet, who represents communities in Black Diamond, Issaquah, Maple Valley, North Bend, Renton, Sammamish and Snoqualmie, said providing funding for transportation projects that are going over budget is a significant priority.

“I think we’ve gotten more money for State Route 18 than almost any other highway project in the entire state, and the costs keep going up, and so we keep having to find more money,” said Mullet, who has previously helped secure funding for a new interchange at State Route 18 and Interstate 90.

As of now, Mullet said most transportation projects are getting indefinitely delayed. However, he said there is an opportunity this session to keep the ball rolling regarding the State Route 18 construction.

“We have to make sure that the transportation budget gets enough support before we leave town on March 7,” he said. “To ensure the projects we had started can continue; that’s going to be a big priority,” he said.

Courtesy photo
Sen. Brad Hawkins represents the 12th Legislative District.

Courtesy photo Sen. Brad Hawkins represents the 12th Legislative District.