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What a transportation plan brings for connectivity

Jan 11, 2012

Jan 11 - "The governor's 2012 transportation package directly benefits Washington's wildlife by accelerating the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project, and steering clear of the destructive Cross-Base Highway," said Jen Watkins, Conservation Northwest conservation associate.

What a transportation plan brings for connectivity

Endemic to Washington's rare praries are flowers, like this water howelia, and insect pollinators, including checkerspot butterflies. Photo: Rod Gilbert

This week, the governor released her Connecting Washington Plan. It lays the groundwork for legislators to craft upcoming transportation funding for Washington state.

"The governor's transportation package directly benefits Washington's wildlife by accelerating the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project, and steering clear of the destructive Cross-Base Highway," said Jen Watkins, Conservation Northwest conservation associate.

Steering clear of the Cross-Base Highway protects an important stepping stone for survival of Washington's remnant prairie, with its rare and native oak-woodland wildflower prairie wildlife from horned lark to western gray squirrel.

Specifically the Connecting Washington Plan provides $106 million to the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project to "continue widening from the end of the snowshed project near Keechelus Dam to Bonnie Creek, including the construction of the wildlife overcrossing."

It also includes $350 million for interchange improvements to I-5 in the Joint Base Lewis-Mchord area to improve traffic flow, but declines to fund a new east-west Cross-Base Highway through rare oak woodland habitat in Puget Sound.

"While we celebrate the exclusion of the Cross-Base Highway (SR 704)," said Watkins, "We remind lawmakers that the Thorne Lane Interchange included in their funding proposal must be redesigned lest it activate a sleeping lawsuit."

The interchange is currently designed as the gateway to the Cross-Base Highway, which is under litigation. A redesign of the interchange would avoid the lawsuit and allow improvements to traffic flow in the Joint Base Lewis-Mchord.

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