Drivers in Washington now pay 28 cents per gallon in state tax on gasoline. The fuel-tax increase will phase in over four years, starting with 3 cents per gallon to be added in July, another 3 cents next summer, 2 cents the following year and 1.5 cents in 2008. New fees based on vehicle weight will also be levied on cars and passenger trucks, ranging from $10 to $30 a year.
House Finance Committee Chairman Jim McIntire, D-Seattle, said, “We just took a bite out of solving our big transportation problems in this state.” Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, who backed the concept, said she will sign it into law.
The state House passed the increase by a vote of 54-43 during late-session action on Sunday. A day earlier, only 45 House lawmakers had supported the tax increase, with 50 votes needed. Gregoire later told reporters she had threatened to set the stage for a special session had she been sent a smaller transportation budget.
The transportation plan will finance such mega-projects as the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement, a new state Route 520 bridge across Lake Washington near Seattle and improvements on Interstates 405 and 90. It also will finance hundreds of highway and bridge projects, including funds for municipalities, The Olympain reports. Additional funds will also be raised by new weight fees on cars, passenger trucks, higher drivers’ license fees and tolls.
The 16-year transportation plan includes $2 billion for the Alaskan Way Viaduct; $972 million for Interstate 405; $500 million for route 520; $411 million for public transportation; $387 million for rail projects; $341 million for bridge replacements; and $185 million for ferries, the Post-Intelligencer reports.