King County Executive Ron Sims and environmentalists say Republican David Irons wants to build a new freeway down the rural Snoqualmie Valley...
King County Executive Ron Sims and environmentalists say Republican David Irons wants to build a new freeway down the rural Snoqualmie Valley.
Irons, who is challenging Democrat Sims, says that’s “absolute fairyland.”
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. The record reveals that Irons has said such a freeway should be considered, but stopped short of endorsing it.
In a new TV ad, Sims walks across a rustic bridge over the Snoqualmie River and tells the camera that Irons favors “a new interstate right through here.” Washington Conservation Voters, which is backing Sims, recently put up an anti-Irons Web site calling the freeway “David Irons’ highway.”
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Sims campaign spokesman Christian Sinderman and Washington Conservation Voters point to two sources to document their charge that Irons supports the freeway some have dubbed Interstate 605.
• A January 2000 article in the then-Eastside Journal, which quoted Irons as saying, “It’s time for discussions and hard decisions. It’s time to talk about 605.” Irons doesn’t say in the article, however, that the freeway should be built.
• An Irons radio ad, in which he calls for more highway lanes and says “one study I’ve seen” concludes a 6 percent increase in lane mileage would reduce congestion 30 percent.
While the study isn’t identified in the ad, Irons acknowledged in an interview that he was referring to a 2003 report commissioned by Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr., an Irons campaign contributor.
One of the 27 projects that study recommends is a four-lane I-605 from the Snoqualmie-North Bend area to south Snohomish County.
Irons doesn’t explicitly support Freeman’s plan in his radio ad; Sinderman said it’s implied.
In an interview, Irons praised Freeman’s work without endorsing it. “It may not be the answer,” he said, “but it’s an example of thinking outside the box. King County isn’t doing similar work, and we should.”
Irons also said he still believes — as he said in 2000 — that I-605 should be considered. “When we’re looking at long-term solutions, we need to look at all options,” he said.
Irons, a Metropolitan King County Council member, sits on the board of the three-county Regional Transportation Investment District, which has spent more than three years crafting a package of projects and taxes to submit to voters.
None of the draft project lists the board has produced over the years has included I-605.
Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or firstname.lastname@example.org