Impacts of I-976 hits home: 196th project delayed

Impacts of I-976 hits home: 196th widening project delayed.
by Luke Putvin

The project to widen 196th street in Lynnwood has been delayed due to funding from the state no longer coming in, as a result of the passing of Initiative 976.

I-976, the 30-dollar car tab initiative sponsored by Tim Eyman, passed this election 52.97% statewide and 58.21% in Snohomish County. The initiative limits annual license fees for vehicles under 10,000 pounds to 30 dollars, bases vehicle taxes on the Kelley Blue Book value rather than manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP) and repeals authorization for certain regional transit authorities, such as Sound Transit, to impose motor vehicle taxes.

Recently, Tim Eyman, the initiative’s sponsor, filed paperwork where he asked a Thurston County court to save the measure to lower the car tab fees. The measure has been temporarily blocked in King County courts.

The 196th widening project was going to add two additional lanes (one in each direction) as well as widen sidewalks and median barriers.

20.9 million dollars was approved by the state to go to the project. Other funding sources included federal grants, city funds, city utility and the city transportation benefit district. Currently, 12.3 million dollars has already been expended on the project in design and property acquisitions.

David Mach, Public Works Manager/City Engineer provided a statement regarding the delay of the project.

“The city was anticipating advertising the project for construction bids in March 2020. As of today, approximately $10M of state funds are on hold pending a decision by the state as to how to fill the budget deficit created by the passage of I-976. We anticipate that these funds will become available but don’t know how long that might be. It potentially could delay bidding the project until 2021, or maybe not. We just don’t know at this time,” Mach said.

“I-976 also eliminated $1.2M annually of city transportation benefit district funding. The funds were used for various transportation improvements such as road repaving, sidewalks, ADA ramps and capital projects such as the 196th project. Staff will be working with the city council to determine how best to fill this budget deficit through the upcoming city budget process.”

The city council will begin budget discussions this year, and Public Affairs Officer Julie Moore said that these discussions will help determine what actions the city will take moving forward.

“We will begin our budget discussions very soon for the 2021-2022 budget, and the Council will need to determine what to do moving forward, whether we take the loss to the transportation improvement projects, or find the funding from some other source (realignment from some other city service or raising of revenues),” Moore said.

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