Fey: Transportation budget invests in equity and sustainability

OLYMPIA—The new $11.8 billion transportation budget will continue to fund major work that was under threat last year because of financial pressures from the covid pandemic and an initiative that caused Gov. Jay Inslee to put construction projects on hold to save money. 

Thanks to federal funding, we don’t have to make those big cuts,” said House Transportation Chair Jake Fey (D-Tacoma). “And this budget actually lets us move toward creating a transportation system that is cleaner, greener, and more equitable for all the people of Washington state.” 

Fey said fellow Democratic lawmakers on the Transportation Committee held nearly 90 listening sessions around the state in 2020. Those conversations helped guide new initiatives in the two-year transportation budget such as the new investments in equity and sustainability.  

“We need a more diverse workforce in transportation,” Fey said, “and we’re putting money behind that idea to bring more women and minority workers on as apprentices and as owners getting contracts for projects. This budget also puts more funding into green transportation and electrification, with funding for charging stations, infrastructure, and the electrification of transit buses and ferries.” 

Additional highlights, Fey said, include boosts in funding for non-highway funding such as Safe Routes to Schools, bicycle/pedestrian projects, and special needs transit.

The budget (Senate Bill 5165 / House Bill 1135) passed the House 90-6 and the Senate 41-8.

Highlights of the 2021-23 transportation budget ($11.8 billion total) 

Federal funding 

  • $400 million for fish culverts 
  • $600 million to backfill revenue losses from COVID 

Sustainable transportation 

  • $6.9 million for alternative fuel vehicle charging and refueling infrastructure program, with $1.75 million in additional funding for two charging station projects 
  • $5 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 
  • $1.5 million for collocated DC fast charging and hydrogen fueling station near Wenatchee 
  • $140,000 to assess options for a publicly available mapping and forecasting tool that provides locations and essential information on EV charging and alternative fuel locations, along with information gathering to help utilities plan for EV charging needs. 
  • $250,000 to design an electric charging mega-site project at Mount Vernon library commons. 

Equity in contracting and apprenticeships 

  • $2 million is provided to the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises for increasing the number of certified women and minority-owned contractors outside of the Puget Sound area in the transportation sector to work on state projects. 
  • $4 million is provided to the DOT Office of Equal Opportunity, for efforts to increase diversity in the transportation construction workforce through the pre-apprenticeship support services (PASS) program and provide technical assistance for WMBE contractors.  

Equitable access to transportation 

  • $2.4 million for a pilot program to provide alternative-fuel vehicle use opportunities to underserved communities and low to moderate-income members of the workforce  
  • $1.1 million 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
  • $5 million for special needs transportation 
  • $215,000 – JTC study on the impacts of current and historical city transportation investments on communities of color, low-income households, vulnerable populations, and displaced communities; the assessment will include specific approaches to addressing existing inequities within cities, as well as recommendations to develop best practices to improve, diversify, and expand city transportation investments

Active transportation 

  • $10 million in new funding for Safe Routes to School and Pedestrian/Bike Safety Programs 
  • $2.3 million for the Puyallup to Tacoma multiuse trail along SR 167 to connect a network of new and existing trails from Mount Rainier to Point Defiance Park 
  • $2.5 million for SR 167 shared-use path to provide bicycle and pedestrian connections from the interchange of 167 & 54th to the SR 509 & Taylor Way intersection 


  • $688K for new employee training to increase outreach and recruitment of populations underrepresented in maritime careers and continue working to expand apprenticeship and internship programs
  • $24.75 million to convert up to two Jumbo Mark II vessels to EV propulsion 
  • $152.5 million to continue work on the state’s first hybrid-electric ferry during the 2021-23 biennium, an Olympic-class vessel with construction beginning the spring of 2022, and funding for the material needed for the second such vessel; an additional $30 million is provided to complete the vessel in the 2023-35 biennium
  • $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

Major construction and preservation projects 

  • SR 520 corridor improvements on the west end ($493 million)  
  • Corridor widening and improvements on I-405 from Renton to Bellevue ($443 million)
  • Preliminary engineering, right-of-way acquisition, and early construction on the Puget Sound Gateway, SR 167, and SR 509 ($487 million) 
  • Expansion of the I-5 corridor through Joint Base Lewis-McChord ($101 million)   
  • Continued construction of US 395 in the North Spokane Corridor ($194 million) 
  • Widening of I-90 Snoqualmie Pass to Easton ($116 million) 
  • US 12/Walla Walla Corridor Improvements ($93 million) 

State Patrol 

  • $4 million for a new cadet basic training class to graduate in June 2023. 
  • $1 million is provided to WSP for legislation to address officer use of force, standardization of tactics, and recordings of custodial interrogations (2SHB 1310, SHB 1223, and ESHB 1054.) 

Notes: Detailed budget documents can be found hereSearch for transportation projects here by selecting Conference (04-23-2021) in the “version” dropdown menu. You can also search for projects on a map by going here and selecting the Conference Budget version.