State transportation budget to fund SR 18 widening

If the budget passes through the State House and Senate, it would provide $26 million.

Photo courtesy of 
                                State Trooper Rick Johnson 
                                A DUI collision on state Route 18 that pinned a driver in their car. The 7-mile stretch of SR 18 between Issaquah-Hobart Road and Raging River hosts a disproportionate number of crashes for the amount of traffic it carries, according to state traffic data.

Photo courtesy of State Trooper Rick Johnson A DUI collision on state Route 18 that pinned a driver in their car. The 7-mile stretch of SR 18 between Issaquah-Hobart Road and Raging River hosts a disproportionate number of crashes for the amount of traffic it carries, according to state traffic data.

Washington State Democrats recently proposed a transportation budget to the state House that includes investments into the state Route 18 widening from Issaquah-Hobart Road to Raging River just south of Interstate 90.

The proposal allocates more than $171 million to transportation projects throughout the 5th Legislative District and will dedicate $26 million to the initial planning and approval phase to widen SR 18. Specifically, the project would widen the highway to four lanes, add a concrete median to prevent head-on collisions and include truck lanes on uphill sections.

“We had two major priorities when we came to Olympia: get I-90, state Route 18 interchange finished as quickly as possible, and secure funding to widening the last bit of state Route 18 to four lanes,” said Rep. Bill Ramos, who serves on the House Transportation Committee. “Securing this funding would be a game changer for our communities. We are making investments to ease traffic and make our roads safer.”

The 7-mile stretch of SR 18 has seen numerous collisions and deaths over years of use, with the most recent widely reported incident killing two Kent women. The victims were on their way to work at the Snoqualmie Casino, which offered $1 million to accelerate the project after the accident in October 2018.

“We lost two of our most beloved team members — it was something that affected all of us,” Snoqualmie Casino CEO Brian Decorah said at the time. “We have 450 team members that travel this stretch of road, every day. Each day without action is another day that we wait to hear news of another tragedy. We don’t want to wait. We want action, for Maria, Jasmine, and everyone who has lost a loved one on this road.”

The GoFundMe campaign to help support Maria Wong and Jasmine Lao’s family raised twice its goal within two months with $30,340 coming from 332 individual donations.

“Thank you for all your donations and support,” wrote Michelle Lao, daughter and sister of the victims. “A lot of you, my brother and I don’t even know, but we can see how big your hearts are.”

From December 2017 to October 2018, there were 38 fatalities on state routes and interstates in King County according to the Washington State Patrol. According to Washington State Department of Transportation traffic data, six of those occurred along the 7-mile stretch of SR 18.

While the driver who caused the October accident was charged with DUI among other charges, the highway is often criticized for its lack of median and street lights along steep hills and minimal lanes.

“Our constituents have been clear about their transportation priorities,” Rep. Lisa Callan said. “Making sure that we complete the widening of Highway 18 was at the top of that list. They want a safer commute with fewer accidents, less time in traffic, and more time with family and friends. We’re working to make that happen.”

After passing in the House, the transportation budget will move to the Senate for consideration. The complete budget can be found at the Washington State Fiscal Information website at fiscal.wa.gov.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Inslee mask graphic
Free mask event for King County residents, Aug. 4 in Bellevue

The drive-thru distribution event will offer two masks per person

Primary election 2020: Who will emerge as Inslee’s challenger?

Voting ends Tuesday in an election without big rallies and fund-raisers and face-to-face debates

Sex ed, local control at heart of race for WA state schools chief

Incumbent Chris Reykdal faces five foes who argue he’s pushing too many state policies on school districts.

Issaquah School District
Issaquah Superintendent announces fully remote start to fall classes

The recommendation will be presented at the school board meeting Thursday

(files)
County Fire Marshal issues burn ban

Dry conditions and high heats are in the forecast this week

Abortions could stop at Virginia Mason if merger is approved, reproductive rights advocates say

Hospital representatives said “certain services” would cease, but wouldn’t give specifics.

Pandemic is spiking in South King County, governor says

Gov. Jay Inslee met with elected officials, health officials and business partners in Federal Way to hear concerns, suggestions about state’s response to COVID-19.

Sound Transit breaks ground on Federal Way Link Extension

The $3.1 billion project includes three new stations near Kent/Des Moines, South 272nd Street and the Federal Way Transit Center.

Extra $600 in federal benefit for unemployed workers set to end July 25

Payment is on top of base weekly state benefit amount

Most Read