Federal Way can keep the money


The MIrror

Last week’s failure of Initiative 912, the statewide ballot measure that would have repealed the state gas tax, means two things for Federal Way.

“It means the $100 million for the Triangle project will remain intact, and it also is a positive in terms of the Regional Transportation Investment District,” said Carey Roe, the city’s public works director.

Getting to keep the $100 million already directed to the Triangle –– the planned makeover of the convergence of Interstate 5, State Route 18 and State Route 161/Enchanted Parkway –– at the state level is an obvious plus for the project. In addition, city officials planned to request the final $50 million to finish the project from the Regional Transportation Investment District this year. Having the gas tax revenue available “sets it up nicely,” Roe said.

I-912 failed in last week’s general election, with about 65 percent of voters opposing it.

Federal Way expects an estimated $65,000 this year from the gas tax the Legislature approved last spring, $250,000 next year and $370,000 each year after.

With that extra revenue, and with the Triangle project funded and ready to go, Roe said his department is proposing the city create a pedestrian traffic safety account, from which to draw money for sidewalks, street lights and crosswalks, as well as to respond to requests under the Neighborhood Traffic Safety Program. If the City Council approves the idea, public works officials would recommend criteria for deciding which projects to fund out of the account.

The city currently pays about $117,000 a year for sidewalks. The proposed pedestrian traffic safety account would “allow us to put more sidewalks in,” Roe said. “We get a lot of requests for street lights, as well.”

If there are overhead power lines along a particular street, the cost per streetlight runs about $3,500 a light, he said. If the power lines are underground, the cost is higher — between $5,000 and $7,000 per light — because the city has to dig.

It’s usually the older neighborhoods that need street lights, Roe said, because King County didn’t require developers to include them when they built developments in Federal Way’s pre-cityhood days. Soon after the city incorporated, the City Council began requiring developers to build sidewalks and street lights in any new developments.

A portion of the gas tax that existed prior to 2005 is directed to the city’s street and overlay funds, which help cover road widening or improvement projects as well as new asphalt around the city.

While the new state gas tax will be a boon to the city’s public works budget, Roe said he doesn’t think it’ll be enough to meet the need.

“The demand will probably exceed the $370,000,” he said. “There will probably be a waiting list.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565,

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