Open letter from Kirkland City Council to State Legislators in support of transportation revenue

Letter-Stamp An Open Letter from Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride representing the city council to the Washington State Legislators in Support of Transportation Revenue

 

Honorable State Senators and Representatives:

 

Let us begin by expressing our sincere appreciation for your service to the public and for your consideration and support of priorities important to local government and our residents.

 

We are concerned about the serious and unmet need for local transportation funding and urge the legislature to take action this session to address this need. Local option financing tools are desperately needed to allow cities such as Kirkland address our growing transportation issues.

 

Your consideration and your actions are vitally important to our community’s quality of life and economic development; which, in turn, contributes to the state’s quality of life.

 

Neglecting to take action now will only cause transportation costs to multiply, increase congestion, and reduce competitiveness for Washington businesses regionally and in international markets.

 

Cities are the economic engines of the state and Washington’s transportation system is the backbone of our economy, providing the vital connections that link our homes to our work places and carry products to market.  A strong state and local transportation system is necessary to create and maintain jobs in our region.

 

This is why transportation revenue is a high priority for the City of Kirkland and others across the state.

 

While Kirkland maintained and even increased our transportation funding over the past four years despite the Great Recession, that is not true for many Washington cities.  In November of 2012, Kirkland's citizens recognized the need for additional local transportation funding and they stepped-up to approve Proposition 1, a permanent property tax levy to address city street maintenance and pedestrian safety needs.  Beginning in 2013, the Streets Levy will raise approximately $2.9 million annually to fund street maintenance ($2.6 million/year) and safety improvements for neighborhood streets and arterials, ($150,000/year) for Safe Walk Routes to School and ($150,000/year) for Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety.

 

Notwithstanding these actions, we still have several hundred million dollars of unmet transportation needs. If the legislature authorizes local options, we will use them.  All the options before you for consideration, in even the most generous combination, will account for less than a quarter of the needs of local governments.

 

 

Examples of Kirkland projects to which funding could be allocated immediately:

 

6th Street & Central Way Intersection Improvements$1,867,000 is needed to complete the final construction of phased upgrades at the intersection of 6th Street & Central Way. Kirkland's Central Way corridor provides access for approximately 18,000 vehicles per day between I-405, the City of Redmond, and Kirkland's Downtown. 

The Project has been designed specifically to:

  • maintain traffic flow into Downtown
  • provide bike lane connectivity with the surrounding bike network
  • Improve pedestrian safety by reducing vehicular speeds and adding lighting
  • Attract and support future private sector investment in the vicinity
  • Improve access to support the redevelopment of adjacent large-scale retail/commercial redevelopment of Park Place (an increase of 1.5 M square feet over existing)
  • Support the 4500 additional jobs anticipated to be created from redevelopment
  • support the vibrant Main Street retail environment that is envisioned along Central Way

 

Project's total Cost – $3,925,000

Local Funding Commitment – $2,058,000

Funding needed to complete the project – $1,867,000

 

124th Avenue NE (in the Totem Lake designated urban center) Improvement Project$5,000,000 is needed to match the City's contribution toward this improvement project that will help attain the 2022 level of service standard established in the Kirkland Comprehensive plan. 124th Avenue NE provides access to and through Kirkland’s designated Urban Center for approximately 19,000 vehicles per day. 

The Project has been designed specifically to:

  • Increase vehicular capacity and improve congestion
  • Reduce vehicular accidents caused by high traffic volumes and substandard pavement conditions
  • Improve non-motorized access and safety by improving bike lanes, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, and bus facilities
  • encourage use of alternative modes of transportation
  • Improve access to support the redevelopment of the Totem Lake Mall

 

Project's total Cost – $10,050,000

Local Funding Commitment – $5,050,000

Additional funding needed for the project – $5,000,000

 

 

Kirkland could also use these revenues as a local match for state projects, such as the NE 132nd Street ramps to I-405, which were submitted as part of the statewide package.

 

Transportation is a bipartisan issue. We recognize the transportation proposals being considered by the legislature do not completely address the billions needed for all of our transportation needs.

 

We are committed to working with you to focus on our shared critical transportation needs. This is the future of our economic development, the future of job creation, the future of our quality of life.

 

Respectfully,

 

KIRKLAND CITY COUNCIL

By Joan McBride, Mayor