Friday, February 23, 2024

Confluence Parkway scheduled for funding in transportation budgets

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This year’s 105-day legislative session adjourned on schedule on April 23 with the approval of all three budgets for 2023-2025. The operating budget at $69.8 billion, transportation budget at $13.5 billion, and capital budget at $9 billion, were approved in the final two days of session.

Among other things, I’m very pleased to share that the final transportation budget approves the full funding and optimized scheduling of the Confluence Parkway project, which includes a second bridge across the Wenatchee River. Securing funding for this project was one of my top legislative priorities over the past several years.

As you may recall, last year’s legislative session concluded with the approval of a 16-year, $16.9 billion transportation investment plan, known as “Move Ahead Washington.”

Last session’s transportation package, however, did not include the usual “aged and phased” statewide project list, which specifies each project’s funding over the duration of the plan. The primary transportation goal for this session was to complete scheduling of the full statewide list. Once scheduled, the projects will receive their appropriations over the next 16 years.

Fortunately for our region, we won’t have to wait like some other areas because the state’s final transportation budget approved on April 22 will allocate Confluence Parkway’s $85 million over the next three budget cycles: $28 million from 2023-2025, $47 million from 2025-2027, and $10 million from 2027-2029. This schedule will allow the City of Wenatchee to fully benefit from the federal INFRA grant awarded to Confluence Parkway and allow the work to be bid as one project, streamlining construction and maximizing efficiency.

Confluence Parkway’s funding and scheduling are big accomplishments considering the project was not even included in the transportation proposal first developed and approved by Democratic leaders in 2022. By working together, our community not only successfully added our $85 million project into the plan, but this year’s actions now have the project funded and scheduled among the very first projects in the entire 16-year statewide plan.

Achieving full funding of this project and proper scheduling has required cooperation at all levels of government. A big congratulations to the City of Wenatchee, Link Transit, and Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council for their years of advocacy. Special thanks as well to Congresswoman Kim Schrier and our federal representatives for helping secure important federal funds to match our state funds.

Thanks also to Chelan and Douglas County officials, the Regional Port, and my House seatmates, Reps. Goehner and Steele, and for their support. I’m proud of our community for working together at multiple levels of government and across political lines to take a step forward toward something so significant. As our region continues to grow, we must find creative ways to stay ahead of our transportation challenges, especially considering the mountains and rivers that geographically constrain us.

I’d like to especially thank Mayor Frank Kuntz and the City of Wenatchee for years of leadership and hard work at the local level toward this important project. I’m honored to help solidify Confluence Parkway’s funding in the mayor’s final year of service because no one has worked harder to finalize this project than he has.

Planning and funding Confluence Parkway has been a decade-long process. The construction phase will take several years as well, but this project is happening! The Wenatchee Valley has a long and proud history of thinking big, working collaboratively, and getting things done. Confluence Parkway is another example of the things we can accomplish together.

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