October 1, 2009
New access ramp smoothes way to UW Bothell from I-405
A project whose gestation period spans nearly a decade reached fruition with a ceremony Sept. 18.
On that day, the long-awaited SR 22 campus access project was unveiled, providing access to UW Bothell and Cascadia Community College from Interstate 405 through a new south entrance.
The project moves some traffic from nearby city streets and eases congestion on Beardslee Boulevard near the north entrance to campus, thereby providing transit with easier access to the north campus stop. The project includes an exclusive exit lane to the campus at the southbound I-405 to westbound SR 522 off-ramp, and a new bridge for the I-405 off-ramps constructed over the campus access street.
The project has been part of legislative requests from the UW virtually from the time the UWB/Cascadia Community College campus opened in 2000 (UWB started life in a business park). Indeed, the institutions’ agreement with the City of Bothell required better access to campus before enrollment could top 3,000 students.
But securing funding for the project has proven to be a challenge. “It’s a different kind of project, from a legislative point of view,” says Marilyn Cox, vice chancellor for administration and planning. “It’s a transportation project, but the development is driven by a campus.” Legislative committees involved in transportation and higher education would pass the hot potato back and forth for several years without agreeing on funding.
A breakthrough of sorts occurred in 2003, when the legislature appropriated $5 million — half to the UW, half to the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges — for right of way acquisition and planning. Ultimately, the legislature approved project funding and construction began in April 2008. The project ultimately cost $52.3 million, with funding from the gas taxes, federal funds and higher education funds.
“This is absolutely necessary for the buildout of the campus,” Cox says. “We’re thrilled that it’s completed. It is a very significant investment for the state in the future of the campus.” The completion also coincides with UWB receiving $5 million in state funding for the design of a science building.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Washington State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb, UWB Chancellor Kenyon Chan, and Cascadia Community College President William Christopher.
“This is so much more than an investment in transportation,” Chan said. “It is a major investment in education and enables our campus to grow and fulfill our pledge to provide access to excellence in education.”
UW Bothell’s strategic plans call for having a student population of 3,000 within the next five years and as many as 5,000 students by 2020.