House Democrats have released their $8.6 billion 2016 supplemental transportation budget, which makes several adjustments and new investments in Washington’s transportation system.
“This budget will help provide congestion relief and economic growth that will help rebuild Washington’s middle class,” said Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island), chair of the House Transportation Committee. “We are stretching our dollars to do more with less.”
The budget is about $500 million larger than the 15-17 budget, with the new money coming from increased federal funding and a better than expected interest rate in the bond market. The most significant new spending is a $110 million investment in maintenance and preservation of bridges and highways.
The supplemental budget also contains down payments on $18 million in improvements to the I-405 corridor, including a northbound auxiliary lane and a new general purpose lane between SR 527 and I-5. The Washington State Transportation Commission is directed to conduct emergency rulemaking to provide toll relief on evenings, weekends, and holidays.
“The improvements to I-405 made in this budget will help bring relief to commuters, especially in the areas like the 1st District where congestion has worsened since the toll lanes launched,” said Rep. Luis Moscoso (D-Bothell), a vice chair of the committee. “I am committed to solutions that will bring swift relief to those struggling in traffic.”
The Washington State Patrol would also see a $4.5 million boost in the budget. That includes several cost saving measures as well as $15 million in new funding for an increase in officer compensation to improve recruitment and retention. This money would fund the policies called for in HB 2872, sponsored by Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma).
“We have a staffing crisis at the Washington State Patrol. Too many officers are underpaid and underappreciated. We are taking action now to support those who keep our roadways safe,” said Fey, also a Transportation Committee vice chair.
The budget will be heard in the House Transportation Committee later today, with floor action expected later this week. Detailed budget documents available here: https://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2016/ht2016p.asp