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New budget proposal restores funding for North-South Freeway project

A new transportation budget from the Washington House would keep funding in place for the North Spokane Corridor after Gov. Jay Inslee proposed delaying the project.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Washington House released its transportation budget proposal on Monday, featuring some key changes from Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed transportation budget.

One of the biggest changes is lawmakers want to continue to fund major projects like the North Spokane Corridor (NSC). Inslee's proposed budget called for pulling the funding for the NSC project for four years.

"We were most opposed to a halt in the project because we knew that it would cause significant economic impacts to our region," Rep. Marcus Riccelli said. "So completing this will keep good paying jobs moving forward and get us closer to less emissions, quicker travel times and moving goods and services throughout our state and our country."

Instead, House Democrats said their budget proposal "restores key projects and keeps them on schedule."

“Many projects were delayed several years,” House Transportation Chair Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma) said in a written statement. “It makes sense to not dismantle these project teams but to keep the projects on schedule and we have the financial resources to do so.

Washington State Department of Transportation told KREM 2 News in November that the North-South Freeway project was on track to be finished in 2028. After Inslee proposed a pause in funding for the project, Spokane area leaders warned the move could delay the completion of the freeway project by six years or more.

When asked about his transportation budget proposal in January, Inslee cited rising construction costs and less money available to fund the projects.

"I do know how concerned the Spokane community is about this," Inslee said in January. "We know how important this is to the community, and I know sometimes people think, 'Well, why Spokane?' Well, it's all across the state of Washington. These projects have had to be delayed because of higher costs, less money available, less contractors available, and I'm hopeful that we can find something to not have to do this delay."

The House transportation budget still needs the approval of lawmakers and the Governor. The House Transportation Chair said he thinks the House proposal should have bipartisan support.

“This year, the House Democrats and House Republicans worked side-by-side on this budget," Fey said. "I believe there will be bipartisan support.”

The House transportation budget proposal will be discussed in an executive session before the Transportation Committee on Wednesday, March 29 at 4:00 p.m.

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