Funding the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project
The 15-mile long I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project is being constructed in phases as funding is made available. The total project cost is estimated at $1 billion, and through two transportation packages passed by the Washington State legislature there is funding to complete the project. The final funding for construction will be released in 2025, and construction is underway now on the first two phases. Each phase includes both highway improvements and wildlife crossing structures.
The 2005 gas tax passed by the Washington State Legislature funded design and construction of Phase 1 of the project, or the first five miles, from Hyak (milepost 55) to Keechelus Dam Vicinity (milepost 60). Current funding for Phase 1 is $551 million. Phase 1 will be complete in 2018.
Savings were realized during Phase 1 due to lower bids on the construction. The legislature authorized in the 2011 transportation bill that $8 million in savings from Phase 1A and 1B already in hand would go towards designing Phase 2, while all savings from Phase 1C would remain on the corridor to keep the project moving forward – Phase 2A includes the first wildlife overpass in the state. This past summer we learned that approximately $21 million in savings were realized from Phase 1C. The 2012 legislature clarified the Transportation Bill to ensure that savings from Phase 1 are kept on the project to keep moving forward into Phase 2A. The final bill as signed by the Governor directs funding to complete design and construction of this phase. Under this direction, the wildlife overpass at Rock Knob is included in construction that began in spring 2015 and will be complete by 2019.
The 2015 Washington State Legislature passed a new transportation package that included $426 million in funding to complete the remaining miles in the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project (the rest of Phase 2 and all of Phase 3). Funding for these phases will be provided each biennium for the next decade to allow design and phased construction building off of the work already underway.
A diverse set of partners has come together to support the completion of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project. We not only join our voices in Olympia, but have come together to speak to our federal representatives as well. One example is the leadership Kittitas County displayed in leading 4 applications for TIGER stimulus funding (2009 – 2012). Although these applications were unsuccessful they display the importance of this project to our state and region’s economy and ecology.
Funding Forest Service Road 4832 Upgrades
Forest Service road 4832 runs parallel to Interstate 90 in the project area, and during project planning the Forest Service agreed that this road would be upgraded to mimic the restoration improvements in the Gold Creek connectivity emphasis area. Currently, the Washington State Department of Transportation is constructing two wildlife underpasses at Gold Creek to facilitate aquatic and wildlife habitat connectivity but the Forest Service road still must be improved. This Forest Service road provides critical access for local homeowners in the Gold Creek valley, and for forest visitors coming to the valley for recreation. The design for improving this roadway is complete, and now $9 million is needed for construction. The I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project is not complete until this important parallel road is addressed.