Fey to help lead transportation planning on key steering committee

Changes are looming in Washington’s transportation system, including the ways Washingtonians pay the tab for it. A Tacoma lawmaker is joining a crucial panel charged with keeping a close eye on the whole thing.

State Rep. Jake Fey has accepted appointment to a seat on the steering committee helping guide the work of the state Transportation Commission. Washington State House Speaker Frank Chopp recently named Fey to the key committee position.

“The Transportation Commission is diving deeply into the idea of implementing big changes in the way we pay for our highway infrastructure,” said Fey, who is a vice chair of the House Transportation Committee. “I’m honored and excited to be joining the important work of this transportation-planning group.”

Most everyone today agrees that everyone in the coming years must have a hand in planning crucial transportation changes. Gridlock, traffic jams, freight immobility — this is the stuff of road outrage. Drivers and passengers stuck in highway congestion aren’t getting home to their families. Farm products and industrial goods snarled in traffic jams aren’t getting off to their customers.

The steering committee will examine reports on road-user assessments, and methods for potentially moving Washington to that type of system utilizing road-user assessments, such as raising needed transportation funds based on the number of miles traveled. Fey will work on the steering committee with representatives from the trucking industry and other business concerns, local governments, environmental and public-transportation advocates, experts in user-fee technology, and additional transportation leaders in the Legislature.

“Before the commission makes any moves toward making any recommendations, I know we have a lot of work to do,” Fey said. “We need to make sure Washington’s six and a half million citizens know and understand proposed strategies for funding this huge, and imminent, transportation investment.”

Fey represents Tacoma and other Pierce County families and businesses “all too familiar with the enormous demand for improving our transportation infrastructure. Right now, the Connecting Washington package of transportation projects advanced by our House Democratic Caucus puts a big priority on plugging very conspicuous mobility gaps in our own ‘Puget Sound Gateway’ project. Improvements for key interchanges near Joint Base Lewis-McChord and completing the missing link from I-5 to SR 167 are a large part of this package.

“We have our work cut out for us, to say the least, in solving challenges confronting motorists and businesses. The sobering reality? Our unmet transportation demand is costing us tons of hours — and tons of dollars. Day in and day out: Thousands of people and trucks stuck in traffic, losing valuable time with their families, missing crucial appointments, and increasing the costs for Washington businesses.”