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Transportation budget: $10 billion for two years, no new major package

Lawmakers adopted a $9.8 billion transportation budget for the 2019-20 biennium. The two year budget provides additional investments for a new 144-car hybrid electric ferry, conversion of an existing ferry, and terminal improvements.

Lawmakers have adopted a $9.8-billion transportation budget for the 2019-20 biennium. The two-year budget provides additional investments for a new 144-car hybrid electric ferry, conversion of an existing ferry, and terminal improvements. It also provides $35 million for re-opening a project office for the replacement of an I-5 bridge crossing in Vancouver. Most importantly, transportation leaders maintained the commitments to the 2015 Connecting Washington package and even accelerated a few key infrastructure projects including the SR-167/SR 509 Gateway and I-90 Snoqualmie Pass. The $9.8-billion total is larger than the previous transportation biennial budget, which totaled $9.4 billion

While there was a lot of discussion on advancing a new $16-billion statewide transportation-revenue package this session, as proposed by Senate Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Steve Hobbs, the votes never materialized. However, it is expected that the discussion will continue during interim and there could be another revenue proposal next year.

Click here for a list of projects funded in the biennial transportation budget.

A couple of other transportation-related bills passed near the adjournment deadline:

Toll Authorization  Legislators adopted a broad toll authorization bill regarding I-405, SR 167, and the SR 167/SR 509 Gateway. ESSB 5825 makes tolling on I-405 and SR 167 permanent, authorizes tolling on the new Gateway facility, authorizes bonding on both I-405, SR 167, and the Gateway facility, and moves up completion of the Gateway project by three years.  Also noteworthy, is lawmakers agreed to move all three tolling accounts into the Motor Vehicle Fund. This was an important policy for the business community because it provides 18th Amendment protections for the toll revenues to be used for highway purposes only. See bill summary here.

Green Transportation  Rep. Jake Fey introduced a green transportation package this session that was adopted by lawmakers. E2SHB 2042 was an omnibus bill that contained a number of policies regarding electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and transit programs. See bill summary here.


Other highlights of the biennial budget

Big projects

  • 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).

Preservation  $768 million is allocated for the preservation component of the WSDOT highway-construction program (Program P). 

Culverts/fish passages  The measure provides about $100 million for fish-passage barrier removal “with the intent of fully complying with the court injunction by 2030.”  The budget notes that WSDOT will “use a watershed approach to maximize habitat gain by replacing both state and local culverts.”  Further, the department will be guided by these factors: the opportunity to bundle projects; the ability to leverage investments by others; the presence of other barriers; project readiness; other transportation projects in the area, and transportation impacts.

Ferry terminals  Over $60 million in total funding is provided in the 2019-21 biennium to complete the Mukilteo ferry 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% 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 $17.5 million is provided to resume efforts related to replacing the Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River.

Ballard Bridge/Magnolia Bridge  $700,000 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.

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

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