Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have completed the first week of our 30-day special session. The pace has slowed down in Olympia, as the main focus lies in the hands of budget negotiators to reach agreement on the 2017-19 operating and capital budgets. We are in special session because Republicans and Democrats have different approaches to the operating budget, and the McCleary fix. This is frustrating, but past special sessions have produced bipartisan operating budgets and great results for our state. I am optimistic about the outcomes ahead.
There were several bipartisan accomplishments this session: the transportation budget; reforms to the Growth Management Act; economic development legislation, including bills that help small businesses; a measure to combat opioid addiction; and legislation to prevent and respond to wildfires.
There is still unfinished business: operating budget, including a McCleary fix; capital budget; a solution for the Hirst problem; and Sound Transit 3 car-tab relief and reforms. Our special session will give us the chance to work toward reaching these goals.
Transportation Update | Chinook-Cayuse Pass
Recently, I had the privilege to work closely with the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Mount Rainer National Park Service on the status of the Chinook-Cayuse Pass seasonal closure.
Many of you have reached out wondering when the road is going to open for the season. I am sure you have been to the base of Crystal Mountain at the closure gate, look around, and don't see much snow on the ground. At the lower elevation, most of the snow has melted. At the higher elevations of the pass, around 4,600 to 5,400 feet, it's a much different story.
WSDOT began clearing the roadway in February. Crews are working hard to clear snow, remove rocks and debris, and repair any road damage that occurred during the winter season. As their work progresses, the road will remain closed to cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Safety is the number one priority, for you – the public, and the crews working to clear the roadways.
Crews are approaching milepost 15 on SR 123/Cayuse Pass near Dewey Creek. Crews are dealing with significant weather conditions, and snow continues to fall almost daily in the higher elevations. This makes the clearing process a bit more challenging. The estimated snowpack is still between 10 to 20 feet on the roadway. It takes approximately 3,000 crew hours to clear all the snow. Over a million dollars goes into this cooperative project every year, between WSDOT and the National Park Service. Depending on weather conditions the next few weeks, crews anticipate having the roadway open by Memorial Day.
(photo: WSDOT attendants – Lorena Eng, Chris Johnson, Mike Golden, and Gary Durst)
I cannot begin to thank the men and women who take on this daunting and dangerous task. They are working hard for you! For more information, updates, and the status of this project, please click here.
It's an honor to serve you.