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Troubled Bridges: Lack of Funding Could Close Redmond-Area Bridges

The same funding shortfall that's fueling talk about Metro bus cuts could lead to the closure of several bridges in unincorporated King County, officials warn.

King County's transportation budget woes aren't a problem for just Metro bus riders, according to a new report from the county's road services division.

The county has identified 35 bridges it says are in danger of closing because funds are not available to properly maintain or replace them. It has also highlighted dozens of roadways in need of significant reconstruction.

The following Redmond-area bridges and roads were included in the report's map:

  • Union Hill Road, from 196th Avenue Northeast to 206th Place Northeast
  • Union Hill Road, from 238th Avenue Northeast to 258th Avenue Northeast
  • Evans Creek Bridge, on 196th Avenue Northeast, just south of SR 202
  • Northeast 50th Street, from 214th Avenue Northeast to SR 202
  • Shults Bridge, on Northeast 106th Street, just east of Avondale Road
  • Bear Creek Bridge, on Northeast 116th Street near Avondale Road
  • Bear Creek Bridge, on Northeast 133rd Street, near Middle Bear Creek Natural Area
  • West Snoqualmie Valley Road, from the Snohomish County line to Ames Lake-Carnation Road

The budget gap has been primarily caused by shrinking tax revenue, the county says:

County roads that connect our communities—roads built generations ago—are failing, and we do not have funding to maintain and preserve them.

The Roads Services Division is supported by local property tax, gas tax and grant funding. All three continue to decline—since 2010 there has been a $32 million, or one-third decline in funding.

Revenues that support the County Road Fund have fallen dramatically due to a 44 percent drop in property values in the rural and urban unincorporated areas of King County, and losses from annexations.

In 2013, pothole filling and patching will be reduced to nearly 65 percent of 2010 levels. The county’s road overlay program is shrinking; in 2013, just 7 miles of deteriorated roadway will be repaved compared to 40 miles in 2010. Snow removal and storm response continues to be diminished.

These projections come as Metro transit warns it may cut 65 bus routes and reduce service on 85 more as a result of the funding shortfall.

King County says its Road Services division has already cut back in several areas, including reducing its staff by one-third by the end of the year, freezing employee pay, and conducting an internal reorganization to gain new efficiencies.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are working to draft a comprehensive transportation package that would address funding shortfalls—and could include a 10-cent gas-tax increase. 

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Do you use any of these roads on a regular basis? What do you think the county or state should do to address issues with transportation funding? Tell us in the comments section.

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