April 13, 2007

Transportation Policy Takes Center Stage

By Randy Hodgins

I don’t have much to report on the status of operating budget negotiations.  Members are making progress, but many big issues remain unresolved, including some major higher education spending items.

To insure I won’t be bored or restless, the “legislative gods” have kept me busy over the past 72 hours working on issues related to the State Route 520 bridge replacement project.  Senate Bill 6099 establishes a mediator-driven process to work with all affected parties on the Seattle side of the bridge (including the UW) to help resolve issues that will inevitably arise from various design options.

One issue that has cropped up of late is a concern among some that Sound Transit, DOT, King County Metro and the UW are not working closely together to insure that a new light rail stop at Husky Stadium can accomodate other forms of rapid transit.  Today’s Seattle P-I has a story on this subject.

Language my office has worked on during the past two days which was included in the version of SB 6099 (which passed the House floor early this afternoon), will hopefully insure a fair and balanced process for working on these multi-modal issues as they affect the new light rail station and other parts of the campus.  Without getting into a lot of details, some of the negotiations have been difficult, but then a wise person once told me “Life wouldn’t be any fun if it was easy.”

The House and Senate will work furiously tonight to meet a 5:00 p.m. deadline to pass legislation from the opposite chamber.  Both the House and Senate have scheduled full sessions for tomorrow so it looks like a long weekend ahead.  Sine Die is still Sunday April 22.

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