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Wednesday morning's headlines

Improvements to Highway 520 through Redmond could cut commute times by 15 minutes or more, according to state transportation leaders. The new roads opened officially Wednesday morning.

The state will investigate Seattle police actions; a faster 520 for commuters; and bridge toll plan under fire.

State to Probe Seattle Police Kicking Incident

Seattle’s police chief asked the state patrol to investigate the actions of an officer who kicked an African-American teenager during an incident in October.  It happened at a south Seattle convenience store, and was caught on video.

The Seattle Times reports the officer’s action led to calls for a wider investigation of the department:

The kicking incident was among several cited last week by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and 34 community and civil-rights organizations in a request to the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether Seattle police have engaged in a pattern of violating the civil rights of suspects, particularly minorities.

The request for the state to review the case has angered the head of the Seattle Police Guild, who says the union will file an unfair labor practice complaint.  Paul O’Neill says it takes work away from union investigators.


Quicker 520 Commute Times Expected

A widened stretch of Highway 520 through Redmond opened to commuters early this morning. The project wrapped up five months ahead of schedule, a fact state transportation leaders trumpeted on a morning news release. They anticipate commute times could be cut by 15 minutes on the stretch.

The work is aimed at relieving a Redmond bottleneck, adding HOV options, and both east- and westbound lanes between West Lake Sammamish Parkway and Highway 202. The new eastbound lanes opened this morning, while westbound lanes were open last week. 


Meanwhile, Worries Expressed About 520 Tolls

A little further west, some in Bellevue are concerned that 520 bridge tolls will increase traffic on city streets and hike costs for small businesses. 

Bellevue Patch reports this morning on the latest public hearing on the toll plan. Meghan Johnson spoke about the impact the fees could have on her family’s construction business:

"That toll is going to really hurt the company," Johnson said. She wanted the commission to consider exceptions for businesses like theirs "so we can continue to have a company and continue to employ people."

A handful of people showed up to speak at the Bellevue hearing sponsored by the state transportation department. Tolling is likely to begin next spring.


A Snow Dump Expected in Cascades

Another one to three feet of snow is expected in the central and north Cascades above 2,500 feet today as a storm moves through. The front has already dumped lots of rain in the Olympics and West Sound, especially Mason and Kitsap counties.