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King County: Lack of Funding Could Close Bridges Near Renton

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 Renton-area bridges and roads were included in the report's interactive map:

  • Petrovitsky Rd From 134 Ave SE To 143 Ave SE
  • 196th Ave SE From SE 161 St To SE 170 St
  • 68th Ave S From Martin Luther King Way To Renton City Limits
  • Lake Youngs Way Bridge, SE 204th Way 

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.

Dave Beedon April 11, 2013 at 06:54 PM
I use the section of Petrovitsky Road mentioned in the article. It seems fine to me. How is the road “failing” or in need of reconstruction? Without more information, the article has the tone of a scare tactic.
Sara M. DuBois April 11, 2013 at 10:07 PM
We frequently use these routes ourselves. HaKing county never noticed these so-called failings and needs before now? I agree with Mr. Beedon here, that we need more details and information before proceeding to shut road, bridges, and the like, down. There are certainly other better solutions out there. Paying higher taxes is only one idea. There have to be a lot more ideas that King County can come up with. King County does certainly seem to give us scary concepts and only one idea about how to fix things, with many of the issues it must deal with. To me, King County is a pretty scary place.

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