House passes transportation budget that builds for a more sustainable and equitable future

OLYMPIAOn Friday, April 2, the House of Representatives passed a new two-year transportation budget in an 87 to 11 vote. 

“This transportation budget will create jobs throughout the state,” said House Transportation Chair Jake Fey (D-Tacoma). “We worked with members from both parties to find solutions and fund projects that will help move our state forward with a cleaner, more modern transportation system.” 

The 2021-23 budget invests $10.94 billion in projects and services. 

Highlights of the budget include: 

Green transportation and electrification 

  • $152.5 million to continue work on the state’s first hybrid-electric ferry, an Olympus-class vessel with construction beginning the spring of 2022, and funding for the material needed for the second such vessel. 
  • $12 million for electric vehicle charging grants and alternative fuel refueling infrastructure. 
  • $15 million for green transportation capital grants to help transit agencies fund the projects needed to reduce carbon emissions and switch to electric vehicles or other zero-emission options. 

Equity and opportunity 

  • $6 million to increase diversity in the transportation construction workforce through the Pre-Apprenticeship Support Services (PASS) program and assistance to minority- and women-owned contractors. 
  • $2 million to the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises to increase the number of certified women- and minority-owned contractors outside the Puget Sound area. 
  • $950,000 to support the ability of foster and homeless youth to obtain their driver’s license and car insurance, helping them overcome barriers to higher education and job opportunities. 

Major construction projects and programs 

  • $726 million to fully fund fish passage barrier removals as proposed by the Department of Transportation and in compliance with the federal injunction. The proposal also funds efforts to complete inventories of culverts for cities and counties. 
  • $493 million for State Route 520 corridor improvements on the west end. 
  • $453 million for corridor widening and improvements on I-405 from Renton to Bellevue. 
  • $485 million for engineering, right-of-way acquisition, and early construction on the Puget Sound Gateway at State Route 167 and State Route 509. 
  • $101 million to expand the I-5 corridor through Joint Base Lewis-McChord. 
  • $194 million for continued work on US 395 in the North Spokane Corridor. 
  • $116 million to widen I-90 Snoqualmie Pass to Easton. 
  • $93 million for improvements to US 12 in the Walla Walla corridor. 
  • $505 million in capital funding for the state’s ferry system, including $100.2 million for Colman Dock preservation, $110.4 million in preservation work for the ferry fleet, the funding for electrification mentioned earlier, and $68.5 million to preserve terminal buildings around the Puget Sound. 
  • $38.3 million for Safe Routes to Schools, double the previous funding. 

“We need a budget that reflects the needs of our communities, our economy and our environment,” continued Fey. “The hard work of members from both parties has led us to this budget. It is the budget our neighbors need and one they deserve.” 

The budget, adopted as a striking amendment to the Senate’s transportation budget legislation (Senate bill 5165), now goes back to the Senate for negotiations on a final agreement.