Over the past three years, the Bothell City Council has made regional and state engagement a priority and their efforts paid off this week with passage of the State’s budget. In fall 2018, the City adopted legislative priorities and hired a lobbyist to shepherd the priorities through the legislative budget process. The Council focused on five priorities, three funding requests, additional basic law enforcement academy classes and investment on north end I-405.
Throughout the legislative session Bothell City Council Members made many trips to Olympia focused on their five legislative priorities. Their efforts culminated in all five priorities being supported by the State Legislature.
The City’s three funding requests included $1.5 million for the Bothell Downtown Revitalization to continue the clean-up efforts on the city-owned downtown properties; $1.08 for the new pedestrian Bridge at Bothell Landing; and $400,000 to complete the Canyon Park Subarea Plan. All three requests were funded at the full amount totaling $2.98 million.
To support the hiring of law enforcement officers for our region and to fill the 13 police officer positions included in the recently passed public safety levy, the Bothell City Council asked that additional classes be added to the academy. A total of nine additional classes were funded that will provide training for 270 additional recruits each year. The Mayor was in Olympia on Saturday morning showing support for these funding requests and said after the budget was passed, “the funding of these four Bothell four priorities is highly impactful. They continue to support our economic development and commitment to parks and open space. It shows that when a city is engaged and at the table, good things happen.”
The Council’s Legislative Priorities also included a major regional project: funding for the construction of dual express toll lanes on I-405 between SR 522 and SR 527, which was estimated to cost $450 million. In January 2017, Deputy Mayor Davina Duerr created the I-405 Stakeholders Group, a coalition of north end cities directly impacted by congestion on I-405 due to only one express toll lane in each direction. Under the leadership of the Deputy Mayor, this group met throughout 2017 and 2018 formulating their funding request to the Legislature. In 2018, the Legislature added $8 million of funding for design of this project, a direct result of the group’s efforts. By 2019, the group had nearly doubled in size and included cities, businesses and educational institutions who supported both the project and authorization and bonding of tolls as a funding source.
The Legislature passed Senate Bill 5748 which authorizes tolling on I-405 and bonding of toll revenue up to $1.5 billion with $600 million dedicated to the north end improvements on I-405 that include two direct access ramps between SR 522 and SR 527. Passage of this bill will allow WSDOT to begin right of way acquisition and construction of the north end improvements to prepare for the start of Bus Rapid Transit in 2024. Deputy Mayor Davina Duerr was also in Olympia early Saturday morning to testify in support of the SB 5748 and shared that, "these projects will ensure Bus Rapid Transit on I-405 will indeed be rapid and will serve all communities along the I-405 corridor equitably.
“The passage of funding for I-405 capacity improvements is a perfect example of why working with our neighbors for our common interests works. Without the support of the cities of Kirkland, Bellevue, Renton and Kent and the various businesses and organizations who signed onto letters of support and testified at committee hearings at the legislature, the $600 million in funding would not have made it past the finish line. This was a regional effort. Many thanks to all involved including our fantastic legislators."
The City has already completed design work on the pedestrian bridge and secured $1 million in federal grants for construction. With the new $1.08 million, the project is fully funded and construction can begin this fall. Work on the Canyon Park Subarea Plan began in 2017 and, with the additional $400,000 in state operating funds, work can continue and will be completed in 2020. The City has been vigorously committed to cleaning up the remaining city-owned downtown properties and will use the $1.5 million towards completing the clean-up by 2021.