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March 2, 2021

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Transportation infrastructure is critical to our area’s economic growth and quality of life. Not only is having an efficient and effective transportation system important for getting our crops to market and shipment of other products, it is important for safety. Over recent years, local traffic congestion is also becoming an increasing challenge for our everyday commutes. These are all reasons why the issue of transportation continues to be one of my top priorities as a legislator.

The Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council is a local planning organization that meets throughout the year in Wenatchee. This group is comprised of local elected officials and other transportation leaders throughout Chelan and Douglas counties. To learn more about its transportation plans, click here. The council recently adopted its 2021 transportation funding priorities, which include key priorities within the greater Wenatchee Valley.

Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council priorities

2021 transportation priorities graphic

This map shows five priority transportation projects in the Wenatchee Valley.

The council emphasized the importance of proper maintenance and preservation of our existing transportation system and focused on these five new projects of interest:

  • McKittrick Street BNSF Railroad Underpass ($33 million). This project would create a much-needed underpass at the railroad crossing near McKittrick Street in North Wenatchee. The proposed underpass is ranked No. 2 statewide among priority railroad grade separation projects. When constructed, the new underpass will replace the street-level railroad crossing one block to the north at Hawley Street. The right of way already has been acquired with local funds, allowing design and construction to begin once funding is secured. View map.  
  • U.S. 2/97 Wenatchi Landing Interchange ($28 million). Dedicated in name to the Wenatchi native Americans who originally lived in the area, this project would be located in Douglas County near the Odabashian Bridge. It would include construction of a half-diamond interchange with arterial street connections that would function as the east half of the interchange. The project would create highway access to the 300-plus-acre site within the East Wenatchee Urban Growth Area to facilitate development. View map.
  • Apple Capital Loop Trail South End Community Connections ($10 million). On the Wenatchee side of the Columbia River, the project would construct a BNSF Railroad overpass to establish a pedestrian/bicycle connection to the Apple Capital Loop Trail for South Wenatchee neighborhoods. On the East Wenatchee side of the Columbia River, a pedestrian/bicycle overpass would be constructed over SR 28, replacing the crosswalks at the SR28/9th Street intersection. These two bridges help provide a much-needed connection between neighborhoods on both sides of the river, downtown East Wenatchee and our loop trail, providing safe access by avoiding the railroad crossings and heavy traffic on SR 28. View map.
  • Confluence Parkway ($130 million). This project would help mitigate the growing traffic challenges in North Wenatchee near the Wenatchee River. A new roadway and new bridge would be constructed and connect to the U.S. 2/97 Interchange. The project also would shift the Apple Capital Loop Trail away from the railroad tracks and closer to Horan Natural Area, and build railroad underpass near the SR 285 connection where Miller Street currently crosses at street level. View map.
  • SR 285/North Wenatchee Avenue Phase 2 Improvements ($24 million). This project will reduce congestion and improve safety and LINK bus services on North Wenatchee Avenue in the vicinity of Maiden Lane and Horselake Road. The first phase of this project is already funded through the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation revenue package. Construction of Phase 1 improvements are scheduled to begin in 2023. This Phase 2 project completes the remaining improvements identified in the North Wenatchee Avenue Preliminary Engineering Summary Report. Click here to see the report. View maps: Phase 1 and Phase 2.  
Confluence Parkway image

The Confluence Parkway design, including a second bridge across the Wenatchee River in Wenatchee is one of our region’s top transportation priorities.

Methow bridges need repair and replacement

In addition to the priorities in Chelan and Douglas counties discussed above, there are transportation needs within the 12th District boundaries of Okanogan County. Multiple bridges along the SR 153 corridor in the Methow Valley (between Pateros and Twisp) are in need of repair and replacement. In total, 11 bridges on SR 153, constructed between 1933 and 1950, have been deteriorating. Replacement of all 11 bridges is estimated to cost nearly $100 million. Repair work to the sidewalks, rails, decks, and other portions of the bridges is less costly, but we know that this type of work, while more affordable initially, simply defers the inevitable and costly transportation challenge ahead in the Methow Valley, one of the most scenic and beautiful areas of our state. Click here to learn more about these aging bridges.

Legislature approves three budgets, including a two-year transportation budget

As you may know, the state Legislature will be developing three budgets in the upcoming session. The operating budget is approximately $55 billion and funds K-12 education, higher education, health and human services, corrections and other operations of state government. The capital budget is about $5 billion and funds infrastructure and land-related items, such as construction assistance to K-12 schools, university buildings, mental health institutions, and correctional facilities. The transportation budget is $10 billion and funds transportation agencies and the construction of previously approved projects.

Revenue/gas tax proposals for new projects

It is important to understand the distinction between the transportation budget, which is approved every two years at the start of the new biennium, and the separate “revenue packages,” which are proposed periodically, approximately every five to 10 years. The two-year transportation budget is funded primarily by fuel taxes and vehicle license fees. The budget provides funding for the day-to-day operations of our Department of Transportation, Washington State Patrol, and Department of Licensing.

The transportation budget also appropriates funds for a variety of maintenance and preservation projects and numerous construction projects throughout the state based on predetermined schedules. Occasionally, the two-year transportation budgets include opportunities to add smaller-scale items, such as the $2 million contribution toward the West Cashmere Bridge in 2017 that is currently under construction. In transportation funding terms, this is on the high end of what is considered a smaller appropriation.

For larger-scale appropriations, revenue packages propose increases in gas taxes and vehicle fees along with a specific list and construction schedule for new projects. The final construction of new projects approved in a new revenue package can take many years to complete, so those projects are scheduled over multiple years and funded during their corresponding two-year transportation budget window. So the primary purpose of the regularly approved transportation budget is to appropriate funds in the upcoming two-year period for agency operations and projects previously passed in a revenue package.

gas tax chart

This graphic shows the current and projected gas tax (under existing revenues) and the diminishing amount available for new projects.

Funding considerations in 2021 and beyond

I realize this description of the two-year transportation budget and the interconnected relationship of the occasionally approved new revenue packages can be confusing. In short, new construction projects of major significance (like the ones included in the Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council priorities) do not get completed without corresponding new revenue and will not be included in the 2021-2023 transportation "budget" under development. The new revenues that fund new, major state transportation projects come in the form of additional fuel taxes and vehicle fees as longer-term supplemental plans to the biennial budgets. Another source of funding for major transportation projects could come in the form of federal grants, which are largely outside of our control and paid by us as federal taxpayers. Either way, we pay for new, major projects if we want them.  

Maintenance and preservation is much needed

Funding for WSDOT maintenance and preservation has unfortunately not been increased to keep pace with the rate of inflation, nor with the addition of assets to the transportation system over time.  WSDOT currently has less than half the funding needed to maintain and preserve transportation assets, so maintenance of our current system – not just new projects – should be an important state priority as well. Any future large-scale transportation package in our state must adequately fund efforts to maintain and preserve our current system, and legislators and local elected officials need to acknowledge this as a priority, even though it may not be as glamorous as discussing new projects. As the Legislature pursues various revenue packages for new projects, it is important that our region is prepared to discuss and advocate for our transportation priorities.

Please take my transportation survey

There are differing opinions about transportation issues, and hearing from you is always important and helpful to me. With legislative proposals being considered this year about how to pay for upgrades to our state transportation system, I want to hear directly from you on this issue. I am eager to receive your survey responses to reflect upon your thoughts and opinions. Your answers will be anonymous.

Click here to take my survey

Listen to my recent local radio interviews

Each week during the legislative session, I call our local radio stations to participate in live interviews about the latest happenings in the legislative session. If you'd like to hear my most recent interviews, click on these links for KPQKOHO, and KOZI

If you have questions about transportation or other issues, please contact me anytime.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your 12th District state senator.



Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District


107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000