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Published on Friday, March 31, 2017

House rolls out their transportation budget

On March 27, the House Transportation Committee released its 2017-2019 transportation budget.

The budget contains no big surprises, and includes an $8.1 billion spending plan, a decrease of $495 million from the 2016 enacted supplemental budget. Some of the notable changes include:

  • An increase of $9.5 million to accommodate hard shoulder running on I-405 northbound between SR 527 and I-5.
  • An advancement of $15 million of funds for the I-90 project from Hyak to Easton to reflect accelerated project delivery.
  • A reduction in spending authority for the Washington State Patrol (WSP) of $8.4 million, in part due to unfilled trooper positions.
  • A delay in scheduled improvements at the Mukilteo ferry terminal of $16.3 million.
  • Extraordinary costs, relating to greater-than-usual snow and ice removal, of $5 million.
  • An earlier-than-expected completion of the updated Department of Licensing vehicle licensing system, combined with the opportunity to advance the project to update the drivers’ licensing system, for a net savings of $700,000.

Of noteworthy interest to cities is a $250,000 appropriation to the Department of Fish and Wildlife from the statewide fuel tax fund for cities. This set-aside is part of a larger sum of money cities receive to conduct studies. Under this provision the Department of Fish and Wildlife will work with cities to identify city-owned fish passage barriers that share the same stream systems as state-owned fish passage barriers and identify, map, and provide an assessment of city-owned barriers that need corrections.

In addition, the House budget asks the Department of Transportation to continue the work of the Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) road-rail study. In 2016, the JTC was asked to identify prominent road-rail conflicts and recommend a corridor-based prioritization process for addressing the impacts of increased rail traffic. Out of this work the JTC created a large database listing more than 300 prominent road-rail crossings. It also drafted a report with a number of recommendations on next steps to take. Among these are calls for a permanent “home” for the database within an agency/organization that can manage and update it. The House budget proposes the Department of Transportation take on this responsibility.

On Wednesday, March 29, the Committee took executive action on the bill with few amendments. Now the House and Senate will conference on their budgets, with the goal of reaching compromise over their differences in the coming weeks.

AWC will provide updates as they become available.

Categories: Transportation
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