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Washington's Funds to Keep Major Projects On Track

Tue May 16, 2023 - West Edition #11

The 2023-25 state transportation budget, as proposed by House Transportation Committee Chair Jake Fey (D-Tacoma), meets a key priority of the AGC by keeping major projects currently under way on track, like the Spokane North/South Freeway and the Puget Sound Gateway.

This budget restores these key projects and keeps them on schedule:

  • Restored North/South Freeway near Spokane (connecting I-90 at the south, just west of the Thor/Freya interchange and U.S. 2 and U.S. 395);
  • The Puget Sound Gateway Program (SR 167 and SR 509 completion);
  • The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program connecting Washington and Oregon; and
  • Restored funding for SR 18 widening to improve highway safety.

Overall, the House budget proposal provides $5.67 billion for highway improvements and preservation. These budget funds will be used to implement last year's Move Ahead Washington package (almost $17 billion) over a 16-year period, as well as projects from the 2015 Connecting Washington package ($16 billion investment), also over a 16-year period.

"Many projects were delayed several years," said Fey. "It makes sense to not dismantle these project teams but to keep the projects on schedule and we have the financial resources to do so. This year, the House Democrats and House Republicans worked side-by-side on this budget. I believe there will be bipartisan support."

Move Ahead Washington

Funding for preliminary engineering, rights-of-way acquisition and early construction for the Move Ahead Washington (MAW) projects include (with amounts shown from the MAW, unless noted otherwise):

  • I-5 Columbia River bridge ($275M, including $53.0M MAW and $222.0M federal);
  • Stormwater retrofits and improvements ($66.7M);
  • SR 18 widening from Issaquah/Hobart Road to Raging River ($55.0M);
  • U.S. 2 Trestle capacity improvements and westbound trestle replacement ($17.0M);
  • U.S. 101/Simdars Bypass project ($2.6M);
  • For highway preservation, $172.0M MAW is provided.
Continuation of Connecting Washington Commitment

Construction activity under the Connecting Washington (CW) program enacted by the Legislature in 2015 is expected to peak in the upcoming fiscal biennium. Total spending on capital highway improvement and preservation projects from the package is expected to exceed $3.1 billion, including:

  • SR 520 corridor improvements on the west end ($395.0M);
  • Corridor widening and improvements on I-405 from Renton to Bellevue ($435.6M);
  • Engineering, right-of-way acquisition and construction on the Puget Sound Gateway, SR 167 and SR 509 ($873.5M);
  • Expansion of the I-5 corridor through Joint Base Lewis-McChord ($227.6M);
  • Continued construction of U.S. 395 in the North Spokane Corridor ($166.2M);
  • SR 9/Marsh Road to 2nd Street — widening with bridge construction ($97.8M);
  • I-5 Federal Way Triangle Vicinity interchange improvements ($51.3M);
  • Widening of I-90 Snoqualmie Pass to Easton ($132.5M); and
  • U.S. 12/Walla Walla Corridor Improvements ($27.2M).

The House Chair's proposal fully funds the fish passage barrier corrections as proposed by the Department of Transportation (DOT), at more than $1 billion (including $378.1M in federal funds), relating to the compliance with the federal injunction, for the 2023-25 period. The proposal also funds efforts to complete culvert inventories for counties.

Climate Commitment Act:

The proposal also assumes $921 million from the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), the state's carbon-pricing program passed in 2021. This piece of legislation sets a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions that gradually lessen over time, with a goal of decarbonization by 2050. Washington had its first CCA auction in late February, funding decarbonization strategies across the transportation sector, including:

Move Ahead Washington programmed: $723M:

  • Active transportation: $161M;
  • Transit programs & projects: $382M;
  • Alt-Fuel & Electrification: $70M;
  • Ferries: $89M;

Additional transfer to Carbon Emissions Reduction Account: $198M

  • Commercial-vehicle infrastructure & incentive program: $150M;
  • ZEV school buses, shore power and drayage pilots, public-transit electrification, hydrogen refueling and other EV infrastructure project: $48M.

Finally, the bill provides funding to implement AGC-backed legislation, SB 5272, to allow speed safety cameras to improve the safety of workers in WSDOT work zones.

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