Last week I updated you on the operating budget, which made strong investments in education and our social safety net (If you missed last week’s e-newsletter, read it here.). The two other budgets we passed this year address our transportation and capital needs. Our state infrastructure is crumbling and it is well past time for us to start fixing roads, bridges, and buildings and making investments in our long-term transportation needs. I’m proud of the work done by our own Rep. Judy Clibborn in leading the House Democrats transportation efforts and Rep. Hans Dunshee for his leadership on our capital budget projects
Our Transportation Package: Long-term Investments & Easing Congestion
One of the very reasons I ran for the legislature was to ensure passage of a transportation package to help meet the needs of our region, economy, state and families. The total size of the transportation package we successfully passed in the last day of session is $16.1 billion and funds much-needed and important projects across our state, creating 100,000 family-wage jobs over the next sixteen years. The demands of our economy mean we need effective and efficient ways to transport goods and services to market. Long commute times mean we are missing valuable time with our families. And as our population continues to grow, we must invest in public transportation and pedestrian safety.
Here are some of the other significant investments in this package:
- $1.4 billion for critically needed maintenance and preservation work that will keep our roads and bridges safe to travel.
- $1 billion for transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects – a record high investment by the state in multimodal transportation.
- $638 million to help cities and counties with local transportation projects.
- $602 million to improve reliability and efficiency on the Washington State Ferries.
- $220 million for the Washington State Patrol to keep our highways safe.
It’s not just about better roads. One major concern this year was how to reduce pedestrian fatalities. Last year about 70 pedestrians were killed, and about 300 people were seriously injured, on Washington roadways. That number is unacceptably high, which is why we created the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Council to serve as a central, expert body dedicated making our communities safer for all users.
We also created a new Electrical Vehicle Infrastructure Bank, which will help develop a more extensive network of charging stations to make travel by electric vehicles simpler and more practical.
Finally, in an effort to reduce cost and bureaucracy, we are streamlining the permitting process for transportation projects to be built more quickly and efficiently without sacrificing our commitment to protecting our environment or our green spaces.
Projects in our District
In our district, we’ll see over $72 million in improvements to I-90, I-405, and the Issaquah-Fall City Road, reducing congestion and providing some much needed relief to our Eastside drivers. Funding was also provided to improve the 124th Ave/I-520 interchange in Bellevue. This investment paves the way for the continued development of Bellevue’s Spring District. Lastly, but certainly not least, I’m happy to announce that with the passage of the transportation package and full funding for the 520 bridge, tolling on I-90 is now off the table!