As we celebrate Earth Day this week, I want to share more details on the passage of the Move Ahead Washington transportation package.  The package is the most environmentally friendly set of investments in state history and one of the most exciting achievements of the 2022 legislative session. I was proud to support a major boost in funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure, transit, pollution control, fish passage, and critical statewide projects and maintenance. The investments do not rely on a general or gas tax increase because nearly all the money comes from last year’s carbon fee in the Climate Commitment Act and federal funding. The total investment is roughly $17 billion over 16 years.

Move Ahead Washington

Move Ahead Washington plans for a future that centers on robust public transit and active transportation (bikes and pedestrians), while investing in preservation and maintenance of the transportation infrastructure that we still rely on today. Here are a few highlights:

  • $3 billion for transit programs and supporting grants, including free transit and ferry fares for youth 18 and under.
  • $1.2 billion for active transportation, including Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
  • $3 billion to maintain and improve statewide infrastructure, including: fully funding the SR-520 replacement project, planning and designing the replacement of the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River between Vancouver and Portland, replacing the US 2 Trestle in Snohomish County, widening SR 18 in King County, upgrading both the Hood River bridge between Oregon and Washington and the I-5 Bridge over the Nisqually delta, and improving HOV lanes on I-5.
  • $2.4 billion for replacement of culverts that currently block passage for salmon to spawning grounds.
  • $2 billion for our ferry system, including $1.3 billion to start building four new hybrid-electric ferries, $193 million to electrify and retrofit two older ferries, and $510 million to improve ferry operations.
  • $4 million to retrofit the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge in order to reduce the amount of polluted stormwater discharged in Salmon Bay and Lake Union, inspired by a similar successful project at the SR 99 bridge.

I am particularly pleased that the balancing of the SR-520 project not only provides funding for mitigation measures long-promised to the adjacent neighborhoods, but also adds $1.1 million for noise mitigation as construction proceeds over Portage Bay.  Perhaps best of all, the package permanently shelves the second bascule bridge over the Montlake cut, avoiding severe damage to the neighborhood and saving $200 million.

Expanding public transit

Thanks to strong community support, I sponsored and passed Senate Bill 5528 to let communities such as Seattle decide whether to expand transit farther and faster. The opening of new light rail stations last fall in the University District and Roosevelt has transformed our neighborhoods.  We are now realizing the promise of how quickly and efficiently people can get around the city.  Riders dream of how much better the system will be when it is fully built out. This bill will allow us to realize those dreams on a faster timeline.

Thanks for taking the time to read this newsletter. If you missed my previous updates on the Legislature’s efforts on public safety, education, or the climate crisis, they are available on my website.