State House passes $10 billion transportation biennial budget

The State House of Representatives has passed its version of the 2019-21 biennial transportation budget, with total funding of $10 billion, up about $600 million from the previous budget. The Senate version is similar and awaits action on the Senate floor.

Click here for a list of projects funded in the House Transportation budget. Note that there still could be changes by the time the House and Senate versions are reconciled.

The House plan, sponsored by Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Jake Fey (D-27), kicks the Connecting Washington (CW) transportation package passed in 2015 into high gear. Among the megaprojects funded by it are:

  • SR 520 corridor improvements on the west end ($396 million);
  • corridor-widening and improvements on I-405 from Renton to Bellevue ($384 million);
  • preliminary engineering, right-of-way acquisition, and early construction on the Puget Sound Gateway, SR 167, and SR 509 ($265 million);
  • expansion of the I-5 corridor through Joint Base Lewis-McChord ($165 million);
  • construction of US 395 in the North Spokane Corridor ($164 million).

Other highlights from the House-passed bill:

Preservation: $183 million is allocated for the preservation component of the WSDOT highway construction program for the 2019-21 biennium. 

Culverts/fish passages: With the addition of $124 million of new funding, a total of $214 million is provided in 2019-21 to remove state-owned fish passage barriers in the area subject to the court injunction. Increased funding of $515 million is assumed for each of the following two biennia, supported primarily by the issuance of Transportation Partnership Act (TPA) bonds. Additionally, $25 million is provided for grants for local fish barrier removal.

Ferry terminals: Over $60 million in total funding is provided in the 2019-21 biennium to complete the Mukilteo terminal and $115 million is provided for the Colman Dock terminal in Seattle.

Ferry electrification: For the acquisition of a hybrid-electric, 144-car vessel, $99 million is provided in the 2019-21 biennium, with the intent to fund the vessel completion in the ensuing biennium and to provide funding for an additional vessel at that time.  In addition, two existing Jumbo Mark II vessels will be converted to operate in hybrid capacity at a cost of $44 million, resulting in 25 percent savings in fuel costs. Additionally, $500,000 is provided to WSDOT for an electric ferry planning team to develop long-range implementation plans.

Columbia River Crossing: A total of $8.75 million is provided to resume efforts related to replacing the Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River.

Road usage charge and autonomous vehicles: Continued support is provided for work on autonomous vehicles and on the evaluation of a potential road usage charge. For a subject-matter expert in emerging autonomous vehicle safety technology, $273,000 is provided to the Traffic Safety Commission, and for communications and outreach regarding autonomous vehicles, $190,000 is provided to the Transportation Commission. Reappropriated federal funding of $730,000 is provided to the Transportation Commission for the purpose of concluding the Road Usage Charge pilot project, and the agency is directed to seek additional federal funding for follow-up research.

Clean transportation: The measure includes $12 million for a new capital grant program to aid transit authorities in funding cost-effective capital electrification projects.

Ballard Bridge/Magnolia Bridge: $1 million is provided for WSDOT to develop a plan and report for the Ballard-Interbay Regional Transportation System on replacement of the Ballard Bridge and the Magnolia Bridge, which was damaged in the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake, and to include recommendations on how and when to construct new Magnolia and Ballard bridges.

On another note, the $15-billion, 15-year transportation package to fund several new projects including the Columbia River Bridge and the Highway 2 trestle has passed the Senate Transportation Committee but has progressed no further. It is not clear that the package, which includes a gas tax increase and a carbon tax, has a clear path to passage in this legislative session.

For more information, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.