While a final state budget is still weeks away, early reports from the Legislature and the Washington State Department of Transportation suggest a revised transportation budget could have a big impact on the county’s Northeast 179th Street project.
During Wednesday’s county council meeting, Clark County Councilor Gary Medvigy said he recently learned funding for the project could be delayed until 2035.
Rather than a single project, the Northeast 179th Street project consists of several projects along a two-mile stretch of the roadway between Delfel Road and Northeast 50th Avenue.
The state Department of Transportation is also planning upgrades to the Interstate 5 junction at Northeast 179th Street, including interchange improvements and the replacement of signals at the intersections with a yet-to-be determined interchange design at the on- and offramps to and from the freeway.
According to WSDOT, the $50 million project will make the area more accessible to bicycles and pedestrians. The project will also look at the feasibility of replacing the freeway overpass over Northeast 179th Street and fixing nearby fish barriers.
Project Manager Scott Sawyer said his understanding is that WSDOT had expected to begin construction on the I-5 project in 2027.
“What WSDOT staff are telling us is that they are staying the course,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer cautioned no final decisions about the governor’s proposed budget or funding for the I-5 project have been made yet. Even if the I-5 junction project is delayed, Sawyer said the county will continue to move forward with planned improvements along Northeast 179th Street.
“Even if they delay the interchange, we’re still moving forward with Delfel and 15th (Avenue) and all the projects on 179th,” Sawyer said. “We know that, eventually, the interchange project has to occur.”
The Legislature is expected to finalize the transportation budget by the end of March. The 2023 session adjourns on April 23.