Snoqualmie Mayor Katherine Ross testified in front of state legislators in Olympia on Thursday, aiming to prevent delays to a construction project along the State Route 18 highway.
During the public comment portion of a House Transportation Committee meeting, Ross gave a short speech urging legislators not to delay construction of additional lanes and a dividing median along a stretch of SR 18 near Tiger Mountain.
“Any funding delay for the State Route 18 widening project increases the risk of additional serious traffic accidents on this dangerous stretch of highway, delays the transports of goods from both Seattle and Tacoma and further increases traffic congestion along this heavily used commuter corridor,” Ross told members of the committee.
“I urge you to protect [the state transportation department’s] preferred timeline for widening State Route 18,” she said.
Ross’ testimony comes about a month after Gov. Jay Inslee released his 2023-2025 proposed budget, which left many elected officials, business leaders and tribal members along the SR 18 corridor worried that the widening project could be headed for postponement.
The $640 million widening project received funds from last year’s state transportation package, a move that was widely celebrated by officials in the Snoqualmie Valley as an investment in improving public safety and the regional economy.
After construction finishes at the I90/SR 18 interchange — which is a separately funded project — the 5-mile widening near Tiger Mountain would be the final section of the highway requiring improvements.
While the governor’s proposal made no actual changes, it did propose a delay on funding allocations for the project that would push back completion until 2035, a 6-year delay based on original estimates from the Washington State Department of Transportation.
It is unclear exactly what influenced the governor’s proposal. When asked about his reasoning, Jim Kopriva, an Inslee spokesperson, said the proposal prioritized projects based on existing contracts, legal obligations and interstate projects. He also emphasized that the budget is only a proposal.