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Big, bold interchange for SR 3/Waaga Way

The nickel increase in the gas tax will begin paving the way for the long-awaited State Route 3/Waaga interchange.

The Legislature recently approved a $4.2 billion 10-year transportation package that funds new auto ferries and road projects that have been delayed for years.

Washington State Department of Transportation officials said the $15 million interchange is still in its design phase.

“We were surprised to see that the money came for this,” said Neal Campbell, project manager for WSDOT.

The project is slated to receive $3 million in the 2003-05 biennium and the remaining $12 million in the 2005-07 biennium.

The project includes a freeway-to-freeway ramp from Northbound SR 3 to southbound SR 303 (Waaga Way) and widens the Clear Creek Road overpass. It also includes installing a light at Clear Creek and SR 303.

Campbell said there are a few design issues to work out such as retention pond size before the project goes out for bid. The right-of-way has not been purchased yet, which could take one to three years, he said. The WSDOT hopes to hire the contractor for the project by the end of 2004. Construction could begin in 2005.

To fund the Central Kitsap intersection and other transportation projects, the state’s gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1990, will increase to 28 cents a gallon.

The $4.2 billion also comes from 15 percent gross-weight fee increase for commercial trucks — not motor homes — a 0.3 percent sales tax on motor vehicles and an optional $20 fee for vehicle owners who want to keep their existing license plate number during a time of renewal. The state requires vehicle owners to secure new license plates every seven years.

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