Traveling up and down Highway is a common occurrence for those who live in Lake Stevens and seeing that road improved is a top priority for the city but funding can be hard to come by these days.
The City of Lake Stevens has joined forces with Snohomish, Marysville and Arlington in hopes of finding not only funding but also support from state legislators to improve that main highway.
These four cities have contracted with Strategies 360, a national lobbyist who specializes in negotiating the political landscape, crafting content, building coalitions and targeting communications.
The goal is to combine efforts and educate state lawmakers of the need to improve this very busy stretch of highway in north Snohomish County and to seek out funding opportunities.
“Strategies 360 will guide us through when it is a good time to go down to Olympia and meet with legislators,” Lake Stevens City Administrator Jan Berg said. “We can’t afford our own lobbyist down there and it is a great opportunity to share the costs because we have a shared interest.”
The four cities, with support from chambers of commerce, local lawmakers, the state Department of Transportation and local businesses created the State Route 9 Coalition. Senator Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, was at the forefront of the creation of the coalition.
The coalition is asking the state Legislature to find new ways to fund transportation projects and having a lobbyist in Olympia will help locating.
The lobbyist is contracted for the next six months and the four cities are dividing the costs evenly. At first, the cities are splitting the $1,750 per month fee which will be used to educate lawmakers in the need for improvements on Highway 9.
“We call this our small effort,” Berg explained. “If transportation money becomes available, we’ll go into our larger effort because they (Strategies 360) will be helping to get funding.”
The cost per month will then go up to $3,400. If funds are not available, the payment will not increase.
Combining efforts is not only cost effective, it also brings the cities together in a common goal. Getting Lake Stevens residents where they need to go in a safe and timely matter is essential to commuters and consumers.
“It’s great to be able to share the costs because we have a shared interest,” Berg said. “Anything that makes it safer and quicker, benefits all of our citizens. SR9 goes right through the heart of the city and our population travels through the corridor to and from work.”