Hawkins proposes Highway 2 traffic flow and safety bill

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January 3, 2022

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Many of you know that congestion and safety continue to be major issues in Chelan County’s upper valley and beyond. I have been hearing increased concerns from Leavenworth residents in recent months, as well as from other communities along the Highway 2 corridor. As Washington positions itself for the next statewide transportation investment package over the following two years, I believe it will be helpful for my legislative colleagues on the transportation committees to receive the latest information about potential Highway 2 improvement projects before assembling a large-scale transportation bill.

Identifying traffic flow and safety improvements

In an effort to improve traffic flow and safety along U.S. Highway 2 between Wenatchee and Monroe, I have introduced Senate Bill 5603 to identify improvements for preservation, maintenance, and new projects for this curvy and congested highway. As a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, I have proposed the bill with my colleague, Sen. Keith Wagoner of the 39th District, whose district includes much of Snohomish County. We serve neighboring geography now but are expected to share communities along Highway 2 in the coming year following the completion of the state’s redistricting process.

Sens. King and Hawkins

The Senate Transportation Committee develops the state’s transportation budget. The ranking member of the committee is Sen. Curtis King of Yakima. This photo was taken on the Senate floor before the COVID pandemic.

Bill calls for WSDOT to conduct outreach

My bill calls for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to conduct public outreach with communities along the highway, including public meetings involving Wenatchee, Cashmere, Leavenworth, Skykomish, Index, Gold Bar, Sultan, and Monroe. The bill also calls for WSDOT to report to the Legislature by December 1, 2022, with a summary of existing analysis along the corridor and recommended investments. The timing of WSDOT’s report to the Legislature’s transportation committees is critical because I believe the Legislature will be considering the next large-scale transportation package one year from now during the 2023 session. Everyone knows Highway 2 is dangerous and congested, so we should hear from the communities, assemble the information we have, and identify needed improvements by the end of this year.

Planning group identifies Leavenworth solutions

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. In April 2020, the council completed a US 2 Upper Wenatchee Valley corridor study, which is a partial study of the highway between Cashmere and Coles Corner (near Lake Wenatchee). According to the report, the goal of this study was “to identify realistic and implementable transportation capital enhancements that provide year-round benefit and management strategies to improve transportation for all modes along the corridor.” To learn more about the Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council, click here

Downtown Leavenworth lights

Leavenworth is a beautiful destination that welcomes tourists year-round. One of my family’s favorite things to do is to view the downtown lights during winter. It’s not surprising that thousands of other families throughout our state feel the same way.

Hwy 2 Icicle Road improvements

The Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council completed a US 2 Upper Wenatchee Valley corridor study in 2020 for part of the highway, identifying potential improvements near Leavenworth. This improvement is designed for traffic flow.

Leavenworth Hwy 2 underpass

This pedestrian underpass is a potential project identified along Highway 2 in Leavenworth between Cashmere Valley Bank and the US Forest Service buildings. The high volume of tourists in Leavenworth creates many challenges throughout the year. This project is a creative solution to increase both safety and traffic flow.

Considering transportation priorities

Chelan County and Douglas County have identified a collection of transportation priorities, which can be reviewed in more detail here, some of which have received recent federal grant funding. Remaining projects, like Wenatchee’s Confluence Parkway, will continue to be a high priority for me. Confluence Parkway is an approximately $130 million project identified to 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 a railroad underpass near the SR-285 connection where Miller Street currently crosses at street level. For more information, please view this map.

Confluence Parkway project

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

New construction is a positive step

While transportation construction delays are never enjoyable if you are traveling in the summer, it is encouraging to see new investments being made in our local transportation system. I was proud to partner with local elected officials from Chelan County, city of Cashmere, Cashmere School District, and the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority to secure $2 million in funding for the West Cashmere Bridge Replacement Project. This was a challenging effort because the project was not funded in the prior Connecting Washington statewide transportation bill, despite being among our region’s top priorities. In addition to the $2 million, I helped identify an opportunity with the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board that provided Chelan County an additional $3 million toward the project. These state funds, combined with other sources of revenue, including federal funds, helped achieve the full funding needed for the project, which is now underway. A big congratulations to Chelan County leaders, the county’s engineering staff, and hired contractors for all their continued hard work on this important project, the largest ever contracted by Chelan County. For more information on the state efforts, click here and here.

West Cashmere Bridge

I was proud to sponsor state funding and partner with local leaders to support the new West Cashmere Bridge, linking Cashmere with Highway 2. This project is currently under construction. For information, click here and here

Maintenance and preservation is much needed

Funding for WSDOT maintenance and preservation, unfortunately, has not been increased to keep pace with the rate of inflation, or with the addition of assets to the transportation system over time. WSDOT currently has less than half of 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, including any along Highway 2, it is important that our current network of regional projects receives adequate maintenance and preservation funding.

Listen to my recent local radio interviews 

Throughout the legislative session, I call our local radio stations weekly to participate in live interviews about legislative issues. Listen to my most recent interviews with KOHO and KOZI by clicking these links. Recently, I participated in a full-hour interview on KPQ’s “The Agenda” with Dave Bernstein. We discussed a variety of topics, including how redistricting will impact the 12th District, my school district consolidation bill, and the 2022 legislative session. Click on this link to listen to my Full KPQ Interview. If you have any questions, please contact me anytime.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.



Brad Hawkins


State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District

Website: senatorbradhawkins.org

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