Gregoire signs SR-520 tolling bills in Bellevue

Gov. Christine Gregoire addressed a crowd at Bellevue City Hall Tuesday morning before signing several new bills.  - Joshua Adam Hicks/Bellevue Reporter
Gov. Christine Gregoire addressed a crowd at Bellevue City Hall Tuesday morning before signing several new bills.
— image credit: Joshua Adam Hicks/Bellevue Reporter

Gov. Christine Gregoire visited Bellevue City Hall on Tuesday to sign legislation that frees tolling revenue for renovations on the east end of SR-520.

Senate Bill 6392 authorizes the state to use future tolling money from the 520 bridge to pay for renovations along the entire corridor – whereas it was previously limited to the bridge itself.

The new legislation allows work to move forward on the Eastside while politicians, neighborhood groups and planning officials work out final details for the more contentious bridge and west-end plans.

Eastside political leaders rallied this year to see the bill through as squabbling over proposed bridge plans and Seattle renovations threatened to stymie work on the east end of the project.

Some Seattle residents oppose the state's preferred plan because of its impact on neighborhoods and traffic.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has came out against the plan, saying he wants to eliminate the bridge's two proposed carpool lanes in exchange for transit-only lanes.

Regional business, labor, and political leaders banded together in February to support moving forward with the bridge replacement as proposed.

The governor today directed the state to work with neighborhoods and local governments to come up with a preferred alternative design. But she vetoed a section of the bill calling for "appropriate" input from all parties.

Gregoire called the language "vague and susceptible to conflicting interpretations," saying she rejected it "in the interest of continuing momentum on the project."

"We stand here with one goal in mind: we're going to open up that bridge by 2014," she said while introducing the new legislation.

The governor vetoed another section of the bill that would have limited the height of the bridge to 20 feet. She said it could have prevented the state department of transportation from complying with Coast Guard requirements and meeting design or permitting requirements.

Rep. Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island celebrated the political efforts that lead to the signing of the new legislation.

"I know that if you have one word to describe both the transportation budget and the bridge bill, you would say 'teamwork,'" she said.

Renovation work on the east end of 520 will include the creation of continuous HOV lanes from Medina to SR-202 in Redmond, adding a direct-access interchange for transit and HOV at 108th Ave. NE, and constructing new highway lids that connect local neighborhoods divided by the corridor.

(This article has been corrected to show that Rep. Judy Clibborn is from Mercer Island, not Medina as previously stated.)

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