Legislature comes through with $3 million for parkway project

April 30, 2009

By Jim Feehan

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In the waning hours of its session, the state Legislature adopted a transportation budget that includes $3 million for the Coal Creek Parkway project. Gov. Chris Gregoire has until May 19 to sign the transportation budget into law.

“It is a true victory for the city,” said John Starbard, city manager. “Newcastle can’t help but be grateful to its legislative delegation, especially Judy Clibborn.”

Rep. Clibborn, Rep. Marcie Maxwell and state Sen. Fred Jarrett make up the 41st Legislative District delegation that represents Newcastle, Mercer Island and portions of Renton, Issaquah, Bellevue and unincorporated King County.

“This is incredibly important because Coal Creek Parkway has a regional impact,” Clibborn said. “Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (chair of the Senate Transportation Committee) and I looked at projects that were under way that could be funded. We didn’t want to leave those projects high and dry.”

The project relieves the bottleneck through Newcastle along the regional thoroughfare that connects Renton and Bellevue. It expands Coal Creek Parkway from two to four lanes from Southeast 84th Way to Southeast 95th Way. The project includes left-turn lanes, landscaped medians, bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic signals along Coal Creek Parkway at Southeast 95th Way, Southeast May Valley Road and Southeast 89th Street. 

In addition to the road improvements, the two-lane, 56-year old May Creek Bridge was replaced with a four-lane structure. 

During a Newcastle Chamber of Commerce candidate forum in October, Clibborn said the project was a top priority for her. Two months ago at the 41st District legislators’ Town Hall meeting she replied “absolutely” when asked if she expected Coal Creek Parkway funding to survive challenging budget negotiations. 

Newcastle Chamber of Commerce President John Jensen said Clibborn’s support for the project has never wavered.

“It is welcome news that the state transportation budget will include approximately $3 million toward the unfunded portion of the Coal Creek Parkway project,” he said. “It was a risk for our small city to go forward without full funding. Newcastle could have borne a large burden of debt for building a regionally important transportation corridor.”

The $44 million project was funded through a variety of state and federal sources along with $3.4 million from the city. A ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the expanded Coal Creek Parkway is scheduled for July 16.

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