Council passes Transportation Improvement Plan

Auburn projects on tap include roundabout near schools, repairs to major arterials.

Auburn’s transportation to-do list includes construction of a roundabout near Lea Hill’s Hazelwood Elementary and Mount Baker Middle School to help parents pick up and drop off their kids in the busy corridor.

Another project calls for grinding and overlaying on Lake Tapps Parkway between Sumner-Tapps Highway and the city limits at 182nd Avenue.

Those projects and more are part of Auburn’s 6-year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) for 2025-2030, which the Auburn City Council passed on June 17. No one spoke at the public hearing that preceded the vote.

“The TIP is something we put together every year to meet a requirement by the state in the (Revised Code of Washington),” Senior Transportation Engineer James Webb told the council at a work session in May. “It is our short-term, 6-year, transportation funding plan. We financially constrain it to predict our financial revenues during that 6-year period, and we use it for a multitude of reasons.”

Those reasons include setting priorities and programming funds required for grant applications, and setting traffic impact fees for the following year. The city must also coordinate with utility and development projects, develop the capital facilities plan, the budget plan, and program Transportation Benefit District funds.

The TIP also removes completed projects, identifies changing priorities, adds projects, identifies grant applications and emerging-needs funding, details changes to project descriptions and changes to anticipated funding costs, and effects modifications to project costs and project timing.

The TIP, which the city must update by June 30 of each year, requires a public hearing and discussion with the Transportation Advisory Board for feedback, although the plan may be changed throughout the year via public hearing and council action.

The TIP focuses on overall funding needs for individual projects, and focuses on overall program funding for the six-year period it covers. And it is a requirement for any grants the city applies for.

Here are some of the projects identified in Auburn’s 2025-2030 TIP.

• Construct a roundabout at the intersection of SE 304th Street and 116th Avenue SE next to Hazelwood Elementary and Mount Baker Middle School on Lea Hill, and replace the existing stop controls on the north-south approaches to the intersection with a single-lane roundabout. The city proposes to start design work in 2025, complete right of way acquisition in 2026, and build in 2027. Funding will come via a mix of traffic impact fee funding, a currently unsecured grant, and contributions from other development projects in the vicinity.

• New to the TIP is the annual renewal of channelization and pavement markings.

• Preservation, grinding and overlaying on Lake Tapps Parkway between Sumner-Tapps Highway and the city limits at 182nd Avenue East. It will replace curb ramps and complete some minor signal improvements as needed. The city applied this spring to Pierce County for grant funding, and if the grant is awarded, the money will be put to construction in 2027-2028.

• 2026 Local Street Preservation Project is a rehash of some of the scope that was originally included in the 2025 project: 8th Street SW west of C Street SW, and 4th Street SE and S street SE. The plan adds J Street SE between Auburn Way South and 17th Street SE. The city will also replace existing traffic calming devices.

• Phase 3 of the A Street SE Preservation project. This project will grind and overlay A Street SE between 17th Street SE and 37th Street SE, and replace curb ramps as needed. The city has applied for a 2024 King County grant for 2027-2028 construction.

Funding by project type

The city’s total funding for the six-year program is approximately $88 million or about $15 million a year, with about 46 percent going to preservation projects.

The city’s Transportation Benefit District is partially funded by a 0.1% sales tax increase that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, and over the six years should generate about $13 million in revenue. The money will be used to provide funds for transportation improvements, including arterial preservation. A portion will go to the widening of M Street NE from East Main Street to 4th Street NE, and another portion to the widening of R Street SE from 22nd Street SE to 33rd Street SE. Additional revenue may be collected through enactment of a car tab fee, depending on how successful the city is at getting the grant funding it needs to fully fund the program over the life of the TIP.