OLYMPIA – Modest but critical investments in Washington’s ferry system, State Patrol and a creative effort at congestion relief highlight the 2018 supplemental transportation budget passed today.
The bill, which received broad bipartisan support, now awaits the governor’s signature.
“These targeted investments will have a lasting impact throughout Washington,” said Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Since we passed the Connecting Washington package three years ago, our state has begun to address its transportation infrastructure needs in a very meaningful way. This budget takes another big step in the right direction.”
The transportation budget provides an increase of $826 million over the enacted 2017-19 transportation budget. Much of the increase is a result of re-appropriated funds to continue Connecting Washington projects passed in 2015.
“This is a bipartisan budget that moves Washington forward,” said House transportation chair Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island. “Our transportation system only works when it connects each of our districts and each part of the state. This budget makes those connections and builds bridges between us.”
Many of the investments are focused on ferries. That includes $600,000 to begin the process of converting three Jumbo Mark II class ferry vessels – the Puyallup, Tacoma and Wenatchee – from diesel to hybrid electric.
The budget also invests $2 million in the M/V Hyak to maintain service and fleet capacity while the M/V Tokitae and M/V Samish are out of service for warrantied repairs.
An investment of $4.4 million is made in state trooper basic training, which is expected to help the State Patrol reach its authorized trooper staffing level of 672 by the end of next year.
With the goal of maintaining current roads, $10 million was included for highway preservation work. Additionally, funding was provided for right-of-way cleanup equipment to ensure the safety of drivers on I-5.
Due to the expected increase in demand for enhanced driver’s licenses as a result of the implementation of REAL ID, the budget provides the Department of Licensing with $28 million for increased hours at certain locations and to make equipment and technology upgrades to reduce wait times.
Finally, a pilot project to incentivize Washington businesses to encourage employees to use ride-sharing public transportation and other emission-reducing methods to commute will receive $1 million. The pilot will begin in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties and will allow participating businesses to apply for a 50 percent rebate on the cost of an employee transit pass, including an ORCA card. You can read more about the project here.
“Through new investments and the continuing benefits of the Connecting Washington transportation package, every corner of our state is seeing the impact transportation investments make,” Hobbs said. “This is the best of both worlds – we are making needed improvements to our existing infrastructure while looking toward the future to build a 21st century transportation system that is clean and sustainable.”
For more details and additional projects included in the 2018 supplemental transportation budget, click here.