Photo courtesy the Town of Eatonville: A sign on Rainier Avenue South lets drivers know road improvements on the street were made possible by the town's transportation benefit district, which is funded by the $20 car tab fees the city collects. Eatonville paid for the road project on Rainier Avenue South and another on Pennsylvania Avenue North through a Transportation Improvement Board grant and used TBD funds to pay the town's match. With the passage of Initiative 976, which caps the cost of car tabs, the town's ability to match future road improvement grants will be limited.
Photo courtesy the Town of Eatonville: A sign on Rainier Avenue South lets drivers know road improvements on the street were made possible by the town's transportation benefit district, which is funded by the $20 car tab fees the city collects. Eatonville paid for the road project on Rainier Avenue South and another on Pennsylvania Avenue North through a Transportation Improvement Board grant and used TBD funds to pay the town's match. With the passage of Initiative 976, which caps the cost of car tabs, the town's ability to match future road improvement grants will be limited.
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Finally, two much-needed road improvement projects in Eatonville have been completed. The projects, on Rainier Avenue South and Pennsylvania Avenue North, included approximately 500 feet of asphalt laid on each street and some improved ADA sidewalk ramps.

The total cost, including engineering, project management and construction was $486,358. A $420,934 grant from the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board paid for 90 percent of the projects. The remaining 10 percent was paid for through the town's transportation benefit district funds. The TBD is funded by the $20 fee collected with your annual car tabs. The TBD generates approximately $50,000 annually and can only be used for road infrastructure improvements. The town has utilized these funds for small sidewalk and road improvements since the TBD was formed in 2012. The Town Council established a policy to set aside part of the collected fees specifically for grant-matching opportunities like the Rainier Avenue South and Pennsylvania Avenue North paving projects and for a chip seal project on Lynch Street between Orchard and Mashell avenues slated for later this year.

The last planned town road project scheduled is the second phase of the Washington Avenue streetscape project. This project started in 2006 with a grant to design the streetscape improvements on Washington Avenue from Center Street East to Lynch Creek East. It included the new traffic light at Center Street East, 8-foot sidewalks, benches, street lighting and additional safety measures at school crossings. The town applied for two federally funded grants for construction of the project through the Puget Sound Regional Council and was awarded one in 2014 and the other in 2019. The total cost for the final phase of the project is $2.48 million, with the town funding 13.5 percent.

Everyone in town is familiar with the first phase of the Washington Avenue project: the traffic light and the beginning of the sidewalk improvements going north on Washington. The second phase, slated to start in 2021, will complete the project to the Lynch Creek intersection. It will provide a beautiful gateway into town, allow for better pedestrian movement to businesses and offer better lighting and pedestrian safety to the downtown corridor and schools.

As we look into the future and plan for road projects, we are limited in our ability to provide matching grant funds. The town's limited street fund budget handles basic maintenance such as sweeping, pothole repair, purchasing of signs, sidewalk crossing and other line painting, plowing and purchasing and applying road salt during the winter months. We receive approximately $50,000 each year in gas tax to manage these items, and one hard winter can exhaust these funds before the year even gets started. This is why the $20 car tab fee has been such an important revenue source for the town. The fee provides funds for basic road improvements throughout the town, but equally important have been the matching funds to apply for state and federal grants to improve our roads. With the passage of Initiative 976, the town will lose this source of funds, which will limit our ability to match funds for state and federal grant opportunities.

With the completion of our recent projects, we have seen how far our limited resources can go when matched with state grant dollars, and the town will continue to look for opportunities to improve the transportation infrastructure needs within Eatonville.