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Puget Sound Regional Council proposes tolls for transportation improvements

The Puget Sound Regional Council has a plan to improve transportation in the region and the members are asking for comments from the public.

The plan is called Transportation 2040 and the council has come up with five alternatives and a baseline summary for funding the transportation projects in the region.

Three of the five alternatives include setting tolls on the area freeways and highways to pay for road improvements and expansion of transit systems.

Stephen Kiehl, the principal planner for the regional council, said an environmental impact statement is being released today and for the next 45 days written public comments are being accepted.

Kiehl said four public meetings were conducted to get the plan to this point with 1,000 comments received and about 60 percent from individuals.

Kiehl presented the alternatives to the Maple Valley City Council Tuesday during a special meeting at the Lake Wilderness Lodge.

Mayor Laure Iddings questioned if tolls on a particular road would be used to improve that road or moved in a fund for other roads.

Councilman Glenn Smith said following the meeting, “Nobody will vote for tolls. We need realism in government.”

Kiehl said he expects the regional council and staff will draw up a preferred alternative following the 45-day public comment period.

“I expect it will be a hybrid, like alternative 3.5,” Kiehl said. “It should be out in September and October.”

The next step, according to Kiehl, will be for the council to adopt a final draft in January, which will be taken to the state legislature.

Kiehl said implementation of the plan must come from the Legislature and Department of Transportation. The council does not have the authority to put the plan into action.

Details on the plan can be viewed at psrc.org/projects/trans2040/index.htm.

The alternative plans will also be posted to The Reporter Web site at www.maplevalleyreporter.com.

Reach Dennis Box at dbox@maplevalleyreporter.com or (425)432-1209 ext. 5050.

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