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Mill Creek City Council approves 2015-2021 Transportation Improvement Plan

The Mill Creek City Council unanimously approved the 2015-2021 Transportation Improvement Plan at their regular July 1, 2014, meeting.
Mill Creek's Transportation Improvement Plan includes all of the city’s potential transportation projects for the next six years, which total out to just over $27 million. Photo credit: Leslely Van Winkle.

The Mill Creek City Council unanimously approved the 2015-2021 Transportation Improvement Plan at their regular July 1, 2014, meeting. The approved plan includes a potential new revenue source for Mill Creek, the formation of a Transportation Benefit District in 2017.

The Transportation Improvement Plan includes all of the city’s potential transportation projects for the next seven years, which total out to just over $27 million. State law requires a six-year plan to be submitted every year, which is why the Mill Creek City Council reviews and approves a seven-year plan every two years as part of their biennial budget process. In this way, the same plan submitted next year still covers the required six-year period.

The city uses the Transportation Improvement Plan as a planning document and has no obligation to undertake the defined projects, however it is anticipated that many of the projects will occur.

Some of the projects are dependent on other city development projects and may be deferred if those projects are delayed. For example, the four road projects in the East Gateway Urban Village will only be undertaken as the planned mixed-use development goes forward.

The programs and projects in the Transportation Improvement Plan and their estimated cost over the six years are as follows:

On-going Programs

  • Concrete Replacement Program - $700,000
  • Pavement Preservation Program - $8,500,000
  • Traffic Signs and Pavement Markings Replacement Program - $100,000
  • City-wide Pedestrian Lighting Program - $125,000
  • Traffic Calming Program - $100,000
  • City-wide Sidewalk Safety Program - $150,000

One Time Projects

  • Sidewalk lighting near Mill Creek Country Club - $25,000
  • 35th Avenue SE Roadway Improvements - $4,100,000
  • Sidewalk on Mill Creek Road - SR 527 to 15th Street SE - $700,000
  • Seattle Hill Road – Interlocal Agreement with Snohomish County - $200,000

Projects Specific to Future East Gateway Development

  • East Gateway Road - Church property - $2,000,000
  • East Gateway Road - Dunn property - $2,000,000
  • East Gateway Road at Seattle Hill Road Roundabout - $3,500,000
  • East Gateway Rd west of Church property - $5,000,000

Funding Sources

Funding for the programs and projects comes from development mitigation fees, real estate excise taxes (REET), grants, bonds, developer contributions, Washington State earmarks, and Transportation Benefit District fees.

The Transportation Benefit District fees are a new potential funding source for Mill Creek. Washington cities and counties use Transportation Benefit Districts to assess car tab fees or sales tax to pay for transportation projects. City and county councils have the authority to form the districts and appoint boards to run them.

At the June 24, 2014, city council meeting Josh Roundy, Mill Creek Senior Accountant, said he projects the city will need to establish a Transportation Benefit District in 2017 to pay for its transportation projects.

According to Tom Gathmann, Mill Creek Public Works Director, Transportation Benefit Districts may generate revenue from registration tab fees and sales tax to provide funding for transportation projects, "TBD's can use either vehicle tab fees (and not just cars) or sales tax (0.2% max) to fund projects. The TBD board has the authority to assess up to $20 tab fee.  A larger tab fee or a sales tax must go to a vote of the people."

Gathmann said one third of local municipalities have formed Transportation Benefit Districts to pay for road projects, "Nine cities around us currently have TBDs and Monroe is voting on a 0.2% sales tax in August... Of the nine in place now, four have the 0.2% sales tax and five have a $20 tab fee."

My Everett News reported that on June 18, 2014, the Everett City Council approved an ordinance forming a Transportation Benefit District to raise money, “A Transportation Benefit District will be created and operated by the Everett City Council. They can then choose to implement a $20.00 license tab fee for every vehicle registered in the Everett city limits or they could raise the sales tax so more than just Everett vehicle owners would be paying for maintaining Everett’s streets.”

Gathmann says that this is the first time that Mill Creek isn’t projected to have enough revenue to fund its ongoing transportation projects. He says that increased costs for repairing Mill Creeks ageing roads shown in the Pavement Preservation Program line item is forcing the city to consider forming its own Transportation Benefit District.

According to Gathmann a $20 car tab fee would generate approximately $300,000 that could only be used for transportation projects.

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