Task Force issues recommendations for supporting King County’s network of bridges and roads | Dow Constantine
A task force recommended a host of reforms and funding principles for addressing the rapidly deteriorating network of bridges and roads in the unincorporated area of King County. The panel presented its findings to King County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Kathy Lambert.
“Providing safe and reliable roads is a top priority, and in continued partnership with the cities we will again look to the Legislature for solutions that can work for the 21st century,” said Executive Constantine. “These recommendations reinforce the urgency of the need, and provide new ideas for keeping communities connected.”
“I appreciate the hard work from members of the task force and staff,” said Councilmember Lambert. “I believe this has been a good learning experience for all involved on the many facets of the roads deficit and the 25-year old broken state funding formula. The consultants who were part of this task force independently verified the extent of the problem and validated our serious concerns. I look forward to the continued support of task force members advocating in Olympia for real and comprehensive solutions.”
Nearly three decades of annexations, declines in gas tax revenues, and the effects of voter initiatives have led to chronic underfunding of county roads across the state. Over the last six months, members of the King County Bridges and Roads Task Forcestudied the Road Services funding gap, and the efficiencies that have been put in place to address this shortfall.
Task Force members comprise a cross-section of road experts, policy makers, and representatives from agriculture, recreation, and local communities. The Task Force identified the range of the Roads funding gap as $250 to $400 million a year, and generated 152 recommendations to address that gap, among them:
- Revenue: Authority from the state Legislature for a fair, non-regressive countywide revenue tool that is tied to inflation, that is sustainable over the long-term, and that provides a benefit to both cities and the County. The Task Force recognizes that the most successful approach may involve using multiple revenue tools and efficiencies with some additional resources dedicated to city transportation needs.
- Infrastructure: Authority from the state Legislature that provides for cities to annex orphan County roads that lie inside their boundaries, and supports annexation of Potential Annexation Areas within the growth boundaries of those cities.
- Outreach: Many Task Force members plan to serve as ambassadors to increase awareness about issues facing Road Services during implementation of these recommendations.
People from all parts of the County—and beyond—take more than one million trips per day on the 1,500 miles of roads and 181 bridges maintained by King County. About half the trips on the high-volume roads originate not only in cities, but in other counties. These roads connect people in cities who are traveling to work, school, and recreation; provide a path for businesses and farmers delivering goods and services; and enable police and fire to respond to emergencies.
King County currently has about $100 million in annual revenue for the care of County bridges and roads—enough to address immediate safety issues, clean water requirements, and a modest amount of maintenance and preservation. At this level of funding, however, it’s estimated the system will continue to deteriorate and that, over the next 25 years, an estimated 35 bridges will need to be closed as they become unsafe, and about 72 miles of roadway restricted or closed.