The second phase of the Yelm Loop project, slated to connect 170th Street to State Route 510 with 3 miles of road and roundabouts, has not been affected by the passage of Initiative 976.
At least not yet.
In an email to the Nisqually Valley News, WSDOT Communications Director Kris Rietmann-Abrudan said the local project was not on a list of projects put on pause for six months by Gov. Jay Inslee and WSDOT in response to the projected budget shortfall $30 car tabs would create.
“Its is important to note that projects and grants not included in the pause list may also be affected by legislative deliberations to amend the 2019-2021 transportation budget to reflect passage of I-976,” Rietmann-Abrudan said.
The passage of Tim Eyman’s I-976, a $30 car tabs initiative, back in November has left state and local agencies, including the City of Yelm, wondering what the financial impacts will be.
I-976 passed statewide during last November’s general election with approximately 53 percent of the vote.
WSDOT’s list was released three weeks following the election and includes 26 projects statewide that will see a six-month delay and 38 projects that will be deferred. Many of the projects are in the early stages of construction or haven’t been constructed yet.
During the first week of the Legislative session, 2nd District Reps. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, and Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, backed plans to implement the controversial initiative while limiting and establishing new funding sources that don’t rely on new taxes.
The initiative is currently locked up in litigation in King County. A report by The Seattle Times claims the Initiative is expected to drain about $454 million of state transportation revenue between 2019 and 2021.
The $58.5 million two-lane Yelm Loop project, slated to be complete in 2023, is funded through the Connecting Washington transportation package, according to information from WSDOT. These projects are funded through a 16-year, 12-cent gas tax.
The project aims to bring heavy traffic loads off Yelm Avenue and away from the city’s downtown corridor.
According to WSDOT’s timeline, the project is currently undergoing an “environmental reevaluation” that is expected to be complete this summer.