Washington State to Consider $10 Billion, 10-Year Transportation Proposal

Wash. Democrats have unveiled Connecting Washington, a multimodal transportation investment bill. Image – Wash. State Transportation Commission.

Washington House Democrats unveiled Connecting Washington, a 10-year, $10B multimodal investment proposal funding projects important for the state’s economy and communities. A hearing on the bill (actually, bills – there are four making up the package) is scheduled for Monday at 1:30 (double check here for time and agenda). (Read the news release.)

The proposal focuses on a number of projects that would improve freight mobility and reduce congestion and improve safety. It would provide assistance to cities and counties, and transit agencies, fund a new ferry boat, and address stormwater runoff.

House Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn crafted the proposal from a number of stakeholder proposals. She was joined by representatives from labor, business and environmental groups, and other Representatives for the announcement.

Prospects for the bill

Reflecting the challenges of creating such a proposal, the main reaction of nearly every stakeholder has been “this is a great starting point.” A notable exception has been most Republicans, who believe reforms and efficiencies should be enacted first and that families can’t afford increased taxes and fees at this time. House Republicans issued a blistering news release about the proposal.

Financing overview

  • 2 cent gas tax increase a year for five years, estimated revenue $2.455 billion
  • Commercial vehicle weight fee increase of 15%, raising $115 million
  • Car tab tax (MVET) of 0.7%, raising $2 billion
  • Hazardous substance tax increase of 0.3%, raising $909 million
  • Bicycle sales fee of $25 on bikes over $500, raising $1m
  • Bonding of $1.5 billion in year 5 and again in year 7, raising $3 billion

Spending overview

  • $3.560 billion for New Projects & Next Steps (five mega-projects, and seed money for other projects
  • $1.790 billion for Transportation System Investments (freight, State Patrol, Ferries, Transit)
  • $909 million for stormwater cleanup
  • $660 million for local government assistance
  • $635 million for road and bridge maintenance
  • $60 million for Complete Streets (safety and usability improvements for pedestrians and cyclists)

Rep. Clibborn commented that

“The Connecting Washington package will link the communities of our state to each other and to the rest of the world. From the child going to school each day to the farmer whose crops travel through our ports to markets abroad, this package is about the infrastructure and jobs that will bring Washingtonians together.”

Steve Mullin, President of the Washington Roundtable observed that

“Improving our transportation system is critical to Washington’s economy. We hope that today’s proposal by Rep. Clibborn will be the start of a robust conversation in Olympia about how to address an estimated $50 billion in transportation needs. We can’t afford to wait any longer,” said

Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council said

“This represents a very good first step in addressing the $50 billion in identified needs to restore Washington’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. We congratulate Representative Clibborn and the House Democratic leadership for stepping up to this challenge.” (Source: WSLC Legislative Update, Feb 20)

Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Maud Daudon commented that

“The package introduced today is a great first step, a down payment on the $50 billion need identified by the Connecting Washington Task Force. We applaud Representative Clibborn for her leadership and look forward to working with her and other members of the state legislature to pass a package in the 2013 session.”

Transportation for Washington noted

“This proposal is a good conversation starter about the need for investing in transportation.”

Transportation Choices commented that

“We are appreciative that Chair Clibborn has begun this important conversation around transportation issues and the urgent need to fix our broken roads and bridges, save transit service, and make it safer for people to bike and walk.”

Governor Inslee issued a statement that said in part

“I thank Representative Clibborn for her leadership on this and am glad to begin a robust conversation about how to move forward in building a transportation system for the 21st century. . . .We clearly need to address the growing maintenance and preservation needs in our current infrastructure, the big-ticket needs to improve freight mobility across our state, and the unmet needs for sustainable transportation options such as pedestrian and bicycle improvements. We can’t afford to not take action and this is a job I expect the Legislature to accomplish. I’ll be working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to craft a package that they can send to my desk for approval.”