Council announces legislative priorities for 2019

Japanese Gulch Daylighting, 525 bridge replacement, at top of list
By Brandon Gustafson | Jan 09, 2019

After state funds were swapped in favor of the Peace Park project in 2018, Mukilteo councilmembers are again looking for state funds for the Japanese Gulch Daylighting project, along with funding for the replacement of the SR 525 bridge, in their 2019 legislative priorities.

As previously reported by The Beacon, Mukilteo initially was to receive state funds for two projects in 2018: remediation of the tank farm site, and the daylighting of Japanese Gulch.

Later, the $721,000 in state funds for the Japanese Gulch project was removed and split into two 21st District projects: the Sno-Isle Mariner Library Community Campus project, and the Peace Park project here in Mukilteo.

It was reported that state Sen. Marko Liias directed the swapping of funds after receiving a grant request from the city of Mukilteo.

At the request of Councilmember Bob Champion, councilmembers set their legislative priorities at Monday’s meeting, a week before the 2019 legislative session begins Jan. 14.

In addition to funding Japanese Gulch, Councilmember Steve Schmalz said the city should be pursuing a new bridge with the new ferry terminal set to open in 2020.

“Let’s go for it. It’s time,” he said. “Whatever the cost is, I mean here comes (Washington State) Ferries $40 million over budget … They need more money from the Legislature to complete the project, why not ask for another $30 million to do the bridge?”

During an April 2018 meeting, the council approved a motion to widen sidewalks on the current 525 bridge rather than pursuing a separate pedestrian bridge that would have run parallel to the 525 bridge on the east side.

“We’re going to spend $5 million on the redesign, or $4 million, we might as well do it right and ask them (Washington State Ferries) to step up and ask our legislators to try and get that done,” Schmalz said. “It’s important we get Ferries on board. Most people who use that bridge are using the ferry terminal or coming off the ferry … (WSF) should be backing us to replace that.”

Champion agreed with Schmalz, and said WSF needs to understand it is part of the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and not a separate entity.

“I think we need to start to be firm that this is WSDOT, this is not Ferries,” Champion said. “We have got to call them by who they are, and we have got to be on their front door step because they seem to bat the ball between their two departments.”

Councilmember Sarah Kneller echoed Champion’s sentiment, saying, “The left hand can no longer blame the right.”

Other legislative projects passed  unanimously include funding for the decant facility, promenade funding at the waterfront, and solar panels on city facilities where applicable.

Other priorities added were recommendations from the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) to support economic growth, keep Public Works funding in working order, invest in affordable housing, fund systems to correct fish-blocking culverts, fund the Criminal Justice Training Commission for law enforcement academies, and address  the behavioral health system.

Councilmembers also noted that the city’s priorities, such as the 525 bridge, are more important than the recommendations by the AWC.

 

 

 

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