A major project in the transportation package passed this week by the Senate will ease rush-hour traffic on Interstate 90 from Issaquah to Bellevue and reduce congestion in other areas vital to the region, Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, said today.

“Everyone knows how horrible our traffic is, and every month we lose a bigger chunk of our day sitting in traffic,” Mullet said. “This legislation will cut down on the time folks are stuck in traffic so they can get home sooner and have more time to spend with their kids.”

The I-90 project will add capacity by strengthening and restriping the shoulders of the road to allow their use as travel lanes during peak periods between Issaquah and Bellevue. Signage will be added to regulate when the lanes may be used.

In addition, the package includes two major projects that greatly impact the region.

The first will add a lane in both directions on I-405 between Renton and Bellevue, one of the worst chokepoints in the state. The second will widen I-90 to relieve congestion over Snoqualmie Pass.

“Both these projects are critically needed,” Mullet said. “Travel along 405 has been untenable for more than a decade, while the pass faces two problems: our ability to move goods from our farms in Eastern Washington to our ports, and the ability of travelers to get back home after a weekend in Eastern Washington. It doesn’t do any good to live in the most beautiful state in the nation if we can’t take advantage of its benefits.”

Mullet noted that the transportation package had support from both sides of the aisle and said it contains vital accountability measures.

”This legislation calls for efficiencies and oversight to make sure that our state Department of Transportation uses our tax dollars wisely and efficiently,” he said. ”If we’re all going to be asked to pay for more and better roads, we need to make sure we get our money’s worth out of each and every dollar.”

The package now goes to the House for consideration there.

“This is my third year in Olympia and the first after three tries that we’ve been able to move a transportation package out of the Senate,” Mullet said. “As it moves to the House, I’m optimistic we can find additional funds to relieve congestion on Highway 18 and I-90 and other frustrating choke points around Puget Sound.”