Bipartisan Senate committee unveils 2013-15 transportation budget

Highlights of the Senate’s 2013-15 transportation budget proposal include:

  • · $4.1 billion for planned highway improvement and preservation construction;
  • · $60.5 million for concrete preservation on Interstate 5;
  • · $200 million in toll revenues to complete construction of the $3.1 billion deep-bore tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99;
  • · Fully funding the 2003 and 2005 commitments to special needs transportation ($25 million), rural mobility ($17 million) and regional mobility ($40 million) grant programs;
  • · Maintaining the 2012 commitment to provide $26 million in transit operating grants;
  • · Fully funding construction of the state’s second 144-car Olympic-class ferry;
  • · $22 million for conversion of the ferry “Hyak” to include installation of a power-management system and more efficient engines, with an expected fuel-consumption saving of up to 20 percent;
  • $6 million for snow and ice removal, roadway maintenance and field engineering equipment;
  • $5.3 million for the ongoing costs of 21 new Washington State Patrol troopers hired in 2012; and
  • $16.4 million for payments associated with deployment of the State Patrol’s mobile-office platform and narrow-band communication upgrade.

“A rarely acknowledged but equally critical component of our state’s transportation system is the professionals who put their lives on the line to patrol this system and keep its users safe,” added Sen. Joe Fain, committee vice-chair from Auburn. “Our state patrol has shouldered the bad economy and we must start reinvesting in these dedicated public servants.”

Revenue for the 2013-15 proposal would come from typically traditional sources, including:

  • · Motor-vehicle fuel tax collections;
  • · Licenses, permits and driver-related fees;
  • · Ferry revenue; and
  • · Revenue from toll collection.

“This budget focuses on ensuring safe, reliable transportation options for people and freight while continuing to fund our major projects and keep people working,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, and fellow committee vice-chair. “These small, public use airports are integral to the overall health of our economy. They play a vital role in tourism, wildfire management and many different aspects of commerce throughout our state.”

If approved by the full Senate, the transportation budget proposal would then be considered by the House of Representatives.