August 1, 2023, COVINGTON, Wash. –- The South East Area Legislative Transportation Coalition (SEAL-TC) wants to thank the Washington State House and Senate Transportation Committees for maintaining the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) preferred timeline for improvements to State Route 18. SEAL-TC is comprised of regional cities, chambers of commerce, and fire and rescue services in the 5th and 47th legislative districts, and they are grateful to the House and Senate Transportation Committees for moving this project along as proposed.
The coalition was formed in fall 2016 to bring awareness to the transportation, commerce and safety challenges posed by SR18 and the importance of widening this key thoroughfare to save lives, facilitate commerce, and provide a safe route for employers and employees between South King County and the Eastside. Construction funding for the project was approved in 2022, and it is slated to begin in 2025 and be completed in 2029.
At the beginning of the 2023 legislative session, Gov. Jay Inslee proposed a new timeline for the project, which would have delayed project completion to 2033. Members of SEAL-TC, including local elected officials, chamber executives and first responders, testified on behalf of the coalition and reached out individually to the House and Senate Transportation Committees to stress the importance of keeping the preferred timeline for the project. The coalition is pleased that legislators on the Transportation Committees heard them and made their decision accordingly.
“It is way past time to complete this critical transportation link,” said Mayor Mary Lou Pauly of Issaquah. “A widened, divided, lit highway, that accommodates both commerce and commuters in the safest way possible, is critical to improving the quality of life for so many.”
“Eastside Fire & Rescue continues to support advancing this vital infrastructure improvement project. Enhancing the safety of residents, commuters, and first responders is EF&R's top priority. The Highway 18 improvement project is critical to improving emergency response capabilities along the route,” said Ben Lane, Fire Chief, Eastside Fire & Rescue.
“We want to express our deepest gratitude to our legislators for the funding allocation and support for the preferred timeline for the SR18 improvement project. This project is vital to our business community, and it demonstrates a true commitment to safety, sustainability, and economic growth. We are thrilled to see this commitment become a reality, and we look forward to the many benefits it will bring to our region,” Kelly Coughlin, Executive Director, SnoValley Chamber.
The coalition’s next steps include working with WSDOT to get regular project updates and remain alert to any possible changes or delays to the project timeline and budget. For more information about the SR18 project, click here: https://wsdot.wa.gov/construction-planning/search-projects/sr-18-issaquah-hobart-rd-deep-creek-widening.
SEAL-TC is made up of representatives from the following municipalities, organizations and agencies:
Our advocacy goal for 2023 is to increase our participation and effort to have a greater impact. Here is a simplified list of the partners we work with and our activities.
To date, our advocacy includes the following:
If you have any questions or would like to get involved with our advocacy efforts or our Government Affairs committee, please contact executive director Dana Neuts at email@example.com.
Jeff Wagner, current Mayor of Covington, has filed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission to run for re-election for Covington City Council, Position #7.
Wagner was first elected to the Covington City Council in November 2003, and is currently serving his fifth term on the council. He continues to work locally and regionally to bring awareness to Covington, work with state and county leaders for funding and partnering for local issues.
When asked, Wagner stated, “Our city means a lot to me. I've invested a lot of time and energy in helping to build our community and I wish to see our city continue to thrive both economically and as a great place to live, work and play. I believe that being involved, not only locally, but regionally, is essential to make sure Covington is heard and that we are at the table for the future of our City, our County and our State. It is not just about us, it is about all of us working together, forming lasting partnerships for the common good.”
“Since being elected to the Covington City Council in 2004, I have continued to focus on developing more activities and parks for our youth, developing a balance between economic development and the needs of our citizens, and to continue addressing the transportation issues of Covington, all while continuing to pursue a balanced budget for our city. And most recently, building a process for our public safety to reassure that we strive to have an even stronger presence in our City for our residents and businesses”
Currently, Wagner is the Municipal Manager with Republic Services. Prior to this, he was a financial advisor for eight years and previously managed Wagner’s, a family business in Covington, for 17 years.
He has been a resident of Covington since 1988. While living here, he has been active in numerous organizations including: President of Covington Days, Covington Kiwanis Club, Covington Merchants Association, Covington Community Council, Chair of the Covington Chamber of Commerce, as well as the co-chair of the Covington Economic Development Council. He has also been involved with Reach Out Covington, Children's Miracle Network Telethon and was voted Kiwanian of the Year in 1993. Previously, he has also sat on the King County Flood Control District Advisory Committee, Kent Chamber Board of Directors, King County Growth Management Planning Council and was chosen as the 2014 Covington Citizen of the Year.
He most recently served as Treasurer of the Sound Cities Association Board of Directors, Board Member of Covington Chamber of Commerce, and a Board Member of the Covington Domestic Violence Task Force.
Currently, he is proud to serve on the following:
Jeff and his wife Michele enjoy living in Covington and look forward to continuing to raise their family in this great city. Covington -- Growing Towards Greatness!
On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to share some of our 2022 accomplishments with the Covington City Council. We have much to be proud of, and we are excited to share some of those highlights with you! View the presentation below or download the PDF to read offline. Thanks to our members, sponsors, volunteers and partners for their support!
The Covington Chamber is a member of the South Sound Chambers of Commerce Legislative Coalition, and last week we presented our 2023 legislative priorities to local elected officials and state legislators.
Our focus in 2023 is on economic vitality and growth for the South Sound region, specifically in the areas of transportation, budget and taxes, small business support, continued investments in workers and education, housing attainability, energy and climate change, public safety, and health care. Read our issue paper here.
Thank you to Green River College for serving as presenting sponsor along with Comcast and to the Auburn Area Chamber, Kent Chamber and Seattle Southside Chamber for including the Covington Chamber in the panel discussion. Thank you also to our members who attended to support our work.