NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, March 29th, 2019

2019–2021 transportation budget approved by Washington State House with five nays

The Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly this morn­ing on a bipar­ti­san basis to adopt a trans­porta­tion bud­get for 2019–2021 (ESHB 1160) devel­oped by the House Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee, chaired by Jake Fey. The vote was nine­ty to five, with three excused.

The five nays were a mix of Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans: Sher­ry Apple­ton, Drew Hansen, Michelle Caldier, Vic­ki Kraft, and Jeff Mor­ris. The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
HB 1160
Trans­porta­tion bud­get 19–21
Final Passage

Yeas: 90; Nays: 5; Excused: 3

Vot­ing Yea: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Boehnke, Callan, Cham­bers, Chan­dler, Chap­man, Cody, Cor­ry, Davis, DeBolt, Dent, Doglio, Dolan, Dufault, Dye, Enten­man, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgib­bon, Gildon, Goehn­er, Good­man, Gra­ham, Gregerson, Grif­fey, Har­ris, Hoff, Hud­gins, Irwin, Jenkin, Jink­ins, Kil­duff, Kir­by, Klip­pert, Klo­ba, Kretz, Leav­itt, Lovick, MacEwen, Macri, McCaslin, Mead, Mor­gan, Mos­bruck­er, Orcutt, Orms­by, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Pel­lic­ciot­ti, Peter­son, Pet­ti­grew, Pol­let, Ramos, Reeves, Ric­cel­li, Robin­son, Rude, Ryu, San­tos, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Shea, Shew­make, Slat­ter, Smith, Springer, Stan­ford, Steele, Stokes­bary, Stonier, Sul­li­van, Suther­land, Tar­leton, Thai, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Wer­ven, Vick, Volz, Walen, Walsh, Wilcox, Wylie, Ybar­ra, Young, Chopp

Vot­ing Nay: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Apple­ton, Caldier, Hansen, Kraft, Morris

Excused: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Frame, Lekanoff, Maycumber

The approx­i­mate­ly $10 bil­lion bud­get will keep the Wash­ing­ton State Patrol, Wash­ing­ton State Fer­ries, and WSDOT Rail Pro­gram hum­ming in addi­tion to the state’s avi­a­tion ser­vices and high­way maintenance/highway con­struc­tion. It includes mon­ey for a long list of projects, includ­ing the removal of bar­ri­ers to fish pas­sage.

High­way megapro­jects fund­ed by this bud­get include:

  • SR 520 cor­ri­dor improve­ments on the west end 
    • ($396 mil­lion)
  • Cor­ri­dor widen­ing and improve­ments on I‑405 from Ren­ton to Bellevue 
    • ($384 mil­lion)
  • Pre­lim­i­nary engi­neer­ing, right-of-way acqui­si­tion, and ear­ly con­struc­tion on the Puget Sound Gate­way, SR 167, and SR 509 
    • ($265 mil­lion)
  • Expan­sion of the I‑5 cor­ri­dor through Joint Base Lewis-McChord 
    • ($165 mil­lion)
  • Con­struc­tion of US 395 in the North Spokane Corridor 
    • ($164 mil­lion)

The objec­tive of most of these megapro­jects is to widen high­ways or con­vert exist­ing roads into high­ways by adding new lanes, which our team con­sid­ers to be waste­ful and not in line with our goal of reduc­ing cli­mate dam­ag­ing air pollutants.

Widen­ing I‑5 through JBLM, for exam­ple, will not improve traf­fic because it will sim­ply encour­age more peo­ple to dri­ve… a well doc­u­ment­ed phe­nom­e­non called induced demand that we have dis­cussed for years here on the Cas­ca­dia Advocate.

WSDOT (the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion) knows all about induced demand, but for rea­sons we can’t fath­om, the depart­ment and the Leg­is­la­ture are still mov­ing for­ward with these mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar high­way projects.

I‑5 is already at least three lanes wide in each direc­tion between Taco­ma and Olympia. Why isn’t the state con­vert­ing one of the lanes to exclu­sive use by high occu­pan­cy vehi­cles dur­ing peak hours and pro­vid­ing fund­ing for Inter­ci­ty Tran­sit, Pierce Tran­sit, and Sound Tran­sit to increase the fre­quen­cy of bus ser­vice through the cor­ri­dor on that con­vert­ed lane? That would be a lot cheap­er and have the poten­tial to actu­al­ly pro­vide an alter­na­tive to peo­ple try­ing to fight JBLM traffic.

More lanes just means more con­ges­tion. Ask Los Angeles.

On the brighter side, the bud­get con­tains fund­ing for Wash­ing­ton State Fer­ries to con­tin­ue build­ing new ter­mi­nals in down­town Seat­tle (at Col­man Dock) and in Muk­il­teo. Both ter­mi­nals were sore­ly in need of an upgrade. The new Muk­il­teo ter­mi­nal that the state is build­ing on the site of a for­mer U.S. Air Force fuel­ing facil­i­ty will offer pedes­tri­ans and bicy­clists a much bet­ter onboard­ing experience.

It will also be seis­mi­cal­ly safe and be clos­er to Sound Tran­sit’s Muk­il­teo Sounder sta­tion. The pas­sen­ger wait­ing area was designed to be light on the earth.

LMN rendering of new Mukilteo multimodal terminal

An overview of the site show­ing the supervisor’s build­ing, hold­ing lanes, and main ter­mi­nal build­ing of the Muk­il­teo Mul­ti­modal Ter­mi­nal (Ren­der­ing by LMN; repro­duced with per­mis­sion of WSDOT)

This bud­get also funds projects to elec­tri­fy fer­ry ves­sels, which is fantastic.

“For the acqui­si­tion of a hybrid-elec­tric, 144-car ves­sel, $99 mil­lion is pro­vid­ed in the 2019–21 bien­ni­um, with the intent to fund the ves­sel com­ple­tion in the ensu­ing bien­ni­um and to pro­vide fund­ing for an addi­tion­al ves­sel at that time,” a staff analy­sis explains. “In addi­tion, two exist­ing Jum­bo Mark II ves­sels will be con­vert­ed to oper­ate in hybrid capac­i­ty at a cost of $44 mil­lion, result­ing in 25 per­cent sav­ings in fuel costs. Addi­tion­al­ly, $500,000 is pro­vid­ed to WSDOT for an elec­tric fer­ry plan­ning team to devel­op long-range imple­men­ta­tion plans.”

Clark Coun­ty leg­is­la­tors are excit­ed that this trans­porta­tion bud­get con­tains fund­ing to restart the process of replac­ing the bridge that car­ries I‑5 across the Colum­bia Riv­er into Ore­gon. The last such attempt, the Colum­bia Riv­er Cross­ing project, col­lapsed due to a myr­i­ad of issues, includ­ing Repub­li­can oppo­si­tion to TriMet MAX light rail on the bridge. (MAX has con­tin­ued to expand with­in Ore­gon since then.)

Some of the small­est pieces of this bud­get are eas­i­ly the best ones.

For exam­ple, here’s anoth­er high­light from the staff analy­sis:

“The Chair’s bud­get pro­pos­al pro­vides an addi­tion­al $10 mil­lion for spe­cial needs trans­porta­tion ser­vices, through both tran­sit agen­cies and non­prof­it ser­vice providers. Sev­er­al oth­er items are also fund­ed, includ­ing $485,000 for an expand­ed sum­mer ORCA pilot pro­gram for eli­gi­ble high school stu­dents; $750,000 for the Inter­ci­ty Tran­sit DASH pro­gram; and $250,000 for a pilot pro­gram that will pro­vide improved access to tran­sit for home­less indi­vid­u­als that have very low income.”

There’s also $12 mil­lion for “a new cap­i­tal grant pro­gram to aid tran­sit author­i­ties in fund­ing cost-effec­tive cap­i­tal elec­tri­fi­ca­tion projects.” And: “$250,000 is pro­vid­ed to the WSDOT Rail Pro­gram for a study of the fea­si­bil­i­ty of an east-west inter­ci­ty pas­sen­ger rail sys­tem, with ser­vice to be con­sid­ered for Auburn, Cle Elum, Yaki­ma, Tri-Cities, Ellens­burg, Top­pen­ish, and Spokane.”

Hur­rah for the WSDOT rail pro­gram! It would be fan­tas­tic to see cross-state com­muter rail ser­vice. Amtrak Cas­cades has been a boon for trav­el­ers need­ing to get between Seat­tle and Port­land and not want­i­ng to fight I‑5 traf­fic. But there is no com­pa­ra­ble ser­vice run­ning across the Cas­cades. And there should be.

These tran­sit appro­pri­a­tions are all great. More of these in the future, please.

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  1. […] House approves high­way-inten­sive 2019–21 trans­porta­tion budget. […]

    Ping from News Roundup: Always Open :: April 4th, 2019 at 7:20 AM
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