Washington State DOT Gets $16.9b for Major Transportation Upgrades

Among the projects is an overhaul of Washington's ferry system to stop the environmental degradation with a greener fleet.

Source : Puget Sound Ferry by Kris DeBruine/ Unsplash

June 2, 2022

Author : Pratigya Dhali

Large upgrades to Washington state’s transportation infrastructure will soon be underway, from bridges, to ferries, to roads. 

 As part of this year’s legislative session, the Washington State Legislature passed a $16.9 billion, 16-year' “Move Ahead Washington” transportation package. It now awaits Governor Jay Inslee's signature to become law.

The bill was introduced on February 8th by the state’s Democratic caucus. State senator Joe Nguyen, who serves on the transportation committee, argues it will lead to huge gains in transportation access. 

The bill encompasses a significant increase in state funding committed to transportation, walking, and bicycling improvements. The proposal includes funding for free public transit for people under the age of 18 and high-speed rail planning. It's a package that's very much related to the state's previous transportation decisions, with billions of dollars slated for new and old highway construction projects.

A 6-cent-per-gallon export fuel tax was originally included in the package, but it was removed amid threats of lawsuits and retaliatory legislation from leaders and lawmakers in Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska.

Senate Transportation Chair, Marko Liias, states that "Washington is a nationwide leader on so many issues, and we can continue to show our progressive values in the transportation sector."

This new bill will not completely break with the 2015 transportation package. The previous package dubbed 'Connecting Washington' will have a few significant holdovers in the new one. For example the new law will still include mega projects like the Puget Sound Gateway Highway Expansions, the I-5 Expansion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and the expansion of I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass, among others. 

The package will also aid in replacing the Columbia River Crossing under the widening of the I-5 between Vancouver and Washington. 

The new package will receive $3.4 Billion from the federal government's Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). “Move Ahead Washington” will also receive an additional $5.4 Billion from taxpayers and from large polluters in Washington state, as guaranteed under the Climate Commitment Act. 

In addition, it will receive approximately $2 Billion for the transportation projects transferred from the state general fund. Moreover, the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) Fund will transfer $100 Million every year. 

1.5 Billion will be spent on the ferry system of Washington to stop the environmental degradation with a greener fleet. The existing three Jumbo Mark II vessels will be converted to hybrid-electric vessels, and terminal charging infrastructure will be developed. 

Washington’s DOT officials say they are seeking to address some of the state's top priorities, such as finishing major projects already started, getting free transportation for kids, preserving vital state infrastructure, stopping pollution during construction, and pushing for multimodal options.

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Category : Department of Transportation Green Economy Investment in Infrastructure State Government Public Works

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