Washington Lawmakers Unveil 16-Year Transportation Package

Overlooking I-5 in Seattle
Overlooking I-5 in Seattle, courtesy of Jimmy Woo, Unsplash

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Washington state’s transportation chairs, Sen. Marco Liias and Rep. Jake Fey, announced the Move Ahead Washington transportation package Tuesday, that will fund transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and programs.

Fey says there will be funding for completing commitments from the 2015 package such as the Gateway Project, highway 520 and I-90, as well as future funding to replace the Columbia River bridge.

Bryce Yadon, one of the lobbyists for Transportation Choices Coalition, says this addresses inadequacies in recent funding.

“One of the biggest things is addressing the grave underinvestment in transit and bike/ ped infrastructure that we’ve seen from the last 20, 25 years or so, we’ve seen a big erosion of investments in that area,” Yadon says.

Another standout is the increase in funding for transportation maintenance and preservation, about three times more than in the 2015 package. Maintaining the state’s bridges and highways as well as jobs according to Yadon. 

“Maintenance and preservation jobs are a better ROI, or return on investment. And they provide more jobs than just new building, new construction or new highway,” Yadon says.

Transit agencies in the state will be funded to provide free fare to children under 18. 

The revenue package will not be a gas tax, which Yadon says is forward thinking as revenue from the tax diminishes.

The package will instead receive the majority of its funding from the Climate Commitment Act, roughly five billion dollars. The act will be implemented in 2023 and aims to reduce carbon pollution and achieve greenhouse gas limits according to the Department of Ecology.

Another billion dollars will come from the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which, in part, allocates funds for highways and transit programs. Other taxes and fees, including pulling from the general fund will make up the rest of the revenue. 

The first public hearings for the package are Thursday in the senate transportation committee.  

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