King County budget woes mean bumpier streets, snowier roads

SEATTLE -- Plummeting tax revenues and tight budgets have King County delaying several transportation projects this year.

When crews are done with a project on Preston-Fall City Road, they'll start repaving seven miles of roads in eastern King County -- just a small amount compared to the 40 to 50 miles they would normally do each year.

"Well, everything's changing and it's a matter of money," said William Cleaver. "We just don't have it. I can understand why they won't be doing it."

The seven miles scheduled for paving are among the busiest ones needing repair, including SE 288th Street, NE 124th Street, SE May Valley Road and Issaquah-Hobart Road. The county is using federal grant money for those repairs.

"Without this grant, we were planning on doing zero miles of overlay because of drop in resources," said Brenda Bauer, director of King County's Road Services Division.

But Bauer warns repaving is not the only service affected. During the winter, crews will only be plowing 10 percent of county roads, compared to 30 percent last year.

"People are going to need to be prepared to stay in their homes longer to not be able to get out to school, to work, to services," Bauer said. "So that's going to be very challenging for us."

While drivers won't see much road work ahead, Bauer warns these roads will continue to deteriorate and cost more money to fix.

"Ultimately, if you don't fix the small problem now, you're paying for a big problem later," she said.

Road work will begin Thursday on SE 288th Street, but depending on weather conditions some paving projects could get pushed back until next year.