Senate transportation-budget proposal includes SR 14 auxiliary lanes

OLYMPIA… At Sen. Ann Rivers’ request, the state Senate is proposing to pay for auxiliary lanes to ease traffic congestion on State Route 14 east of Interstate 205 to S.E. 164th Avenue. The project is included in the 2017-19 state transportation budget endorsed by the Senate Transportation Committee today.

The project, which would increase capacity and reduce travel time, is not in Rivers’ legislative district. However, the funding would come from a project in her district that is part of the Connecting Washington transportation package approved in 2015.

“I’m basically trading one SR 14 improvement for another. The Camas Slough replacement bridge would come off the Connecting Washington project list and these auxiliary lanes would go on the list instead. It’s a more impactful investment, for approximately the same cost,” Rivers said.

The La Center Republican explained the auxiliary lanes weren’t included in the 2015 transportation package because of conflicting priorities among other legislators.

“I think there’s a better understanding now of what projects like this mean to our region, but that alone wasn’t going to bring the project back to life,” she said. It fell to Rivers, Clark County’s only Republican legislator to support the Connecting Washington package, to request the funding shift aimed at putting the auxiliary lanes on the Department of Transportation’s to-do list.

“As someone who asks ‘what does southwest Washington need?’” rather than ‘what does my district need?’ I knew which project would help both my district and our region more,” Rivers said.

“All of Clark County will benefit from this project and I appreciate Senator Rivers’ request to replace the project,” said Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver. “This particular section of SR 14 is quite the bottleneck and widening it will give relief to Clark County citizens traveling both east and west.”

The Senate transportation budget also includes $190,900 to implement a new distracted-driving law, should the Legislature approve either Rivers’ Senate Bill 5289 or an identical House bill.