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Sides taken on Triangle project
By ERICA HALL
Funding for a road improvement project to fix the Triangle a convergence of three major highways near Federal Way could be on unsure footing, so south King County and Federal Way leaders are banding together to make sure the powers-that-be know how strongly they feel about the project.
Local leaders are also pushing to keep the original budget amount intact the Regional Transportation Improvement District (RTID) suggested cuts out of concern voters wouldnt approve a larger package and for fair distribution of available funding to ensure denser areas, like Seattle, dont get the lions share of revenue.
This years recommendation by the RTID to cut the budget, eliminating $200 million from south King Countys share, concerns local officials. As it turns out, the amount needed to build the Triangle project in Federal Way is about $200 million.
In addition, there was local concern that several members of the SCAT (South County Area Transportation) Board joined forces to push for other projects at the expense of the Triangle. Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, board chairman, said that never happened.
Federal Way city manager David Moseley pointed out the Triangle project is still on the list, but he suggested local leaders mobilize to make sure it remains there.
Moseley met with Lewis Thursday afternoon to discuss projects in south King County. We agreed all the projects on the SCAT list are equally important, Lewis said. This recommendation is the minimum possible and must be completed as a package. Either we get the list done, or SCAT wont be able to recommend projects to RTID.
Still, at a regional transportation meeting held April 14, city council members, state Reps. Skip Priest and Mark Miloscia, state Sen. Tracey Eide, chamber of commerce members and others agreed to begin lobbying RTID board members for the Triangle project.
Eide expressed a concern that, at the moment, Federal Way is standing alone.
Moseley said the city might have better luck working with Pierce County. Kent, Auburn and Renton probably wont help Federal Way, he said, and the Metropolitan King County Council delegation tends to break up geographically.
Priest said Federal Way leaders should point out voters here will be aware of the fairness issue when the project list hits the ballot in November.
Weve been required again and again to take a significant amount of growth. We should continue to make the point that concurrency is a valid principle and the Triangle project addresses concurrency, he said. If concurrency is not met, I dont see the point of supporting the electorate. Itll be harder for us to make the case than it would be if an important project thats already going was moving ahead.
Theres a point where those of us who have been on the leading edge of voting for infrastructure improvements will want to see equity prevail.
While Councilwoman Linda Kochmar offered to draft a letter from city officials and the Chamber of Commerce asking RTID board members to support the Triangle project, she lamented the uncertainty of funding for Federal Way projects despite the citys size.
Were the eighth-largest city in the state, the fourth in King County. They dont know who we are, she said.
Yes they do, Eide replied. And if they dont, they will.
Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org