Democrats in the Legislature presented their 2022 transportation package on Tuesday, which focused on transit, bicycles, pedestrians, and ferry service.
While some west-side road projects like the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River are in, Richland’s Highway 240 bridge over Aaron Drive as well as other local road projects are out, at least for now.
The package has $5 million for the Island View to Vista Field trail system and pedestrian bridge over Highway 240. It’s also got $23 million for fleet electrification, long range service corridor engineering and mobility hubs for Ben Franklin Transit.
But those are the only two transportation projects identified for Benton and Franklin counties.
The Island View trail and the flyover bridge at Aaron Drive were both legislative priorities for Richland and Kennewick. The trail is funded. The flyover bridge that would make the commute between Kennewick, Richland and Hanford faster is not.
“While it falls short of the project cost of $16 million, we are encouraged that it is on the list at this point,” Richland City Manager Jon Amundson wrote in an email about the trail funding.
He added, “We hope there is still an opportunity for additional dialogue and inclusion of the Aaron Drive Flyover Interchange improvements.”
Pasco has several projects city officials hoped would get into the package. They include safety improvements on two Highway 12 railroad crossings, and one more at I-182 and Highway 395; and two bike/pedestrian projects, one on Sylvester and one on Broadmoor.
Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell noted in an email to the Observer that the transportation package focused primarily on Puget Sound-area projects in the Puget Sound region.
“We will continue to advocate for Pasco and the Tri-Cities,” Zabell said. “Deputy Mayor Maloney will be providing testimony tomorrow morning at 8am.,” he said.
There is still a month before the March 10 adjournment.
In a response to an Observer email to Matt Boehnke’s office, information officer Nick Jacobs contacted Dana Quam, policy counsel for the House Republican Caucus, for an update on the transportation plan.
Quaum wrote, “These are the Democrat proposed projects for their Move Ahead plan. These are subject to change as it moves through the process.” She added, “The budget we are working on doesn’t have any new projects.”
With Democrats firmly in control of the legislature, they will likely call the tune.
Tri-Cities should consider sending a Democrat to Olympia. We are not being heard as Republican. A Democrat would speak and more likely be listened to and we’d have money for projects.