Funding in the proposed budget continues the state’s $1 billion commitment toward the bi-state project to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River; $138 million would go to the project
The Center Square Washington
The Washington State Senate has proposed a $12.9 billion transportation budget, including $7 billion for capital projects and programs, and $5.9 billion for operating programs.
Last year the Legislature passed and Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law the 16-year, nearly $17 billion “Move Ahead Washington” transportation package.
“It was important in this budget that we continued the essential work we started by passing the Move Ahead Washington plan last year, and I feel that we’ve done that,” Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, said in a news release regarding the Wednesday morning unveiling of the Senate’s transportation budget.
He continued, “You can’t just reimagine the way transportation is funded once. We follow those same values in this budget, investing heavily in projects that will further position our state as a leader in green jobs and innovation, while keeping our promise to complete critical projects on time across Washington. We can do both.”
Among the funding in the Senate’s proposed transportation budget:
- Highway improvements and preservation would get more than $5 billion altogether, with $4.5 billion going to highway improvements and $707 million going to highway preservation.
- Approximately $830 million would go toward green projects, $758 million of which is derived from the quarterly auction of emissions allowances under the cap-and-trade program established by the Climate Commitment Act. The inaugural auction was held last month and brought in just under $300 million. Those green projects include increasing safe routes to schools, e-bike and school-based bike programs, ferry electrification and ultra-high-speed rail.
- Continuing the state’s $1 billion commitment toward the bi-state project to replace the aging Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River between Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon, $138 million would go to said project.
- Washington State Ferries would get $74 million for Jumbo Mark II hybrid electric vessel conversions and terminal electrification, and $46.8 million for the first Hybrid Electric Olympic class vessel.
- The Washington State Patrol would get $13.7 million to purchase body cameras and upgrade car cameras and tasers for troopers, as well as $4.7 million to fund two lateral academies to help fill trooper vacancies and $1.9 million for recruitment bonuses.
“Last year was the single most fatal year in history for travelers on Washington’s roads and part of the complex issue we face is a shortage in peace officers,” said Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, co-vice chair of the committee and a former trooper with the Washington State Patrol.
There were 745 traffic fatalities recorded in 2022, according to preliminary data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, the most in the state since 825 in 1990, an 11% increase over 2021.
“This year, we met the challenge head-on with a multipronged bipartisan effort to bump up the number of police training academies, diversify the force with an influx of female officers, fine tune our vehicular pursuits policy and more,” Lovick said. “This was a big year for traffic and community safety and an important step in the right direction.”
A second supplemental transportation budget for the current 2021-23 biennium in the amount of $10.6 billion was also introduced in the Senate on Wednesday.
This report was first published by The Center Square Washington.
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