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Published on Monday, April 24, 2017

Legislature passes transportation budget

While the Legislature was not able to pass an operating budget in the 105-day regular session, they were successful in passing a transportation budget. Although the large transportation package (known as Connecting Washington) was passed two years ago, the 2017-2019 budget is still significant for cities and contains several items of interest. These include:

  • $250,000 of city fuel taxes for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to identify city-owned fish passage barriers that share the same stream systems as state-owned fish passage barriers. This study will identify, map and provide a preliminary assessment of city-owned barriers that need correction. The study shall provide recommendations on: (a) How to prioritize city-owned barriers within the same stream system of state-owned barriers in the current six-year construction plan to maximize state investment; and (b) How future state six-year construction plans should incorporate city-owned barriers. A report must be provided to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) and the transportation committees of the Legislature by July 1, 2018.
  • $60,000 of city fuel taxes for the Freight Mobility Investment Board (FMSIB) to manage and update the road-rail conflicts database produced as a result of the Joint Transportation Committee's "Study of Road-rail Conflicts in Cities”, in 2016. The board must update the database using data from the most recent versions of the Washington State freight and goods transportation system update, marine cargo forecast, and other relevant sources. The database must continue to identify prominent road-rail conflicts that will help to inform strategic state investment for freight mobility statewide. The proviso tasks FMSIB with forming a committee including, but not limited to, representatives from local governments, the department of transportation, the utilities and transportation commission, and relevant stakeholders to identify and recommend a statewide list of projects using a corridor-based approach. The board must provide the list to the transportation committees of the Legislature and OFM by September 1, 2018.
  • $43,800,000 of federal appropriations to National Highway Freight Network projects as identified on the Prioritized Freight Project list submitted to the Legislature in October of 2016. The list, completed by the Department of Transportation (DOT), prioritizes freight projects. Only the first tier of projects on the prioritized list that were validated by DOT may receive funding at this time. The DOT must continue to work with the WA Freight Advisory Committee to improve project screening and validation. DOT was not eligible to compete for funding in this first round, but will be for the 2019-2021 biennium.
  • $160,000 for the Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) to contract with the University of Minnesota to analyze and assess traffic data from the I-405 Express Toll Lanes.
  • $300,000 to the Transportation Commission to continue to evaluate a road usage charge (RUC) as an alternative to the motor vehicle fuel tax to fund investments in transportation. The Transportation Commission is piloting a project to study this alternative. You can learn more about the project here.
  • Permission to the DOT to advance one or more of the following projects (on a pilot basis) from the 2015 Connecting Washington Transportation package if funding for a project within the current fiscal biennium cannot be used and DOT expects to have substantial reappropriations for the 2019-2021 biennium:
    • Sharpes Corner Vicinity Intersection;
    • I-5/Marvin Road/SR 510 Interchange;
    • I-5/Northbound On-ramp at Bakerview;
    • US 395/Ridgeline Intersection;
    • I-90/Eastside Restripe Shoulders;
    • SR 240/Richland Corridor Improvements;
    • SR 14/Bingen Overpass;
    • US Hwy 2 Safety;
    • SR 520/148th Ave NE Overlake Access Ramp;
    • SR 28/SR 285 North Wenatchee Area Improvements;
    • I-5/Rebuild Chambers Way Interchange Improvements;
    • SR 28 East Wenatchee Corridor Improvements;
    • SR 3/Belfair Bypass – New Alignment; or
    • SR 510/Yelm Loop Phase 2 (T32700R).

The budget now heads to Governor Inslee’s desk for his signature. AWC would like to thank the members of the House and Senate transportation committees for all of their work this session to get this important budget passed. As we continue to comb through the budget, we will provide updates as necessary and needed.

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