The transportation package comes through the legislature, and contains money for capital projects, often a compromise of money spent on highways, ferries, and other infrastructure, often funded with a new revenue source. In 2015 the transportation package (Connecting Washington) included an increased gas tax, which was bonded to fund, among other projects the SR-167 expansion, the new SR-520 bridge, widening parts of I-405, I-395 completion to I-90. That was the bulk of the funding, but there was also money for some multi-modal improvements, including the Safe Routes to School program, Complete Streets, and grants to local transit authorities. The State ferry system got improvements, and there was money for building culverts to improve fish passage. In addition to all that, the transportation package also authorized new sources of funding for Regional Transportation Districts.
An analogous package is expected this year. In order to sell bonds to finance projects, there will need to be a 60% majority in favor, which requires bipartisan support. Right now there are three or four competing visions that have put out.
The governor wants $318 million for ferry electrification, $20 million for pedestrian, bike and school-zone improvements, and $3.25 million for planning future high-speed rail.
Sen. Steve Hobbs, the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, is bringing back Forward Washington, a large package of $16.6 billion over 10 years, including $3.175 billion for the I-5 Columbia River Crossing, $1.5 billion for a new west-bound trestle and widening for Highway 2, $1.7 billion for ferries, terminals and veseel electrification, $1 billion for highway preservation, $470 to widen I-405 through Bothell, and $300 million to widen Highway 3 at Gorst on the Kitsap Peninsula. He is also apparently willing to spend $75 million on the West Seattle Bridge.
Sen Rebecca Saldaña, the vice chair of the Transportation Committee, has drafted Evergreen Washington, a 12-year $14.3 billion plan. It would fund $1.9 billion for highway maintenance, but contains no widening projects except for the Highway 2 trestle. Her plan would get funding from carbon fees, as well as a tax on luxury planes and yachts.
Sen. Mark Mullett wants $285 million to widen Highway 18 along Tiger Mountain, which is part of Hobbs's plan, and to expand the interchange where I-90 meets I-405 in order to reduce congestion.
Republicans want no new taxes.
And there is a requirement for money for fixing culverts to improve fish passage.
What we're looking for in the Package
More progressive funding possibilities for Regional Transportation Districts (RTD). RTDs should have more options for raising revenue, and they should be authorized to receive revenue from multiple sources.
Increased funding for multi-modal projects.
Electric and hybrid cars should be charged on a VMT-basis, not a flat fee.
WSDOT should accelerate their plans for switching to VMT charges for all vehicles
Unknown at the moment.
In the Media
Seattle Times: Lawmakers face tough road forging transportation budget