Washington state officials give updates on $16.9 billion transportation package

The “Move Ahead Washington” package was passed this year

May 18, 2022 / 3 minute read
$16.9 billion transportation package

Washington state transportation agency officials provided updates to the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) regarding the 16-year, $16.9 billion “Move Ahead Washington” transportation package that passed during this year’s legislative session.

“This package was noteworthy on several fronts,” Steven Breaux, legislative relations director for the Washington State Department of Transportation, told the commission. “First of all, it was the first major transportation package in Washington state that did not include an increase in the state gas tax.”

The package originally included a 6-cents-per-gallon export fuel tax that was scrapped after threats of lawsuits and retaliatory legislation from leaders and lawmakers in Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

The final version of the transportation package calls for the transfer of $100 million from the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) per year for the life of package. The PWAA funds are intended to replace the planned tax on fuel exported from Washington’s five refineries to neighboring states, which was expected to generate $2 billion over 16 years.

“The revenue largely came from appropriated federal funds through the IIJA, through revenues that were going to be raised under the Climate Commitment Act passed in the previous Legislature,” Breaux explained.

“Move Ahead Washington” is set to receive $3.4 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed by Congress last year and signed into law by President Biden.

An additional $5.4 billion in the "Move Ahead Washington" legislation will come from new taxes and fees on large polluters in Washington, after the legislature approved the measure last year under the Climate Commitment Act.

“And then also, completely new this time, was a transfer from the state general fund to the transportation fund of approximately $2 billion for transportation projects,” Breaux explained of the one-time shift. “That is also something the Legislature had never done before.”

The package also includes $1.5 billion for the state’s ferry system, with some of that money going toward efforts at creating a greener ferry fleet that leaves a lighter environmental footprint.

Plans also call for converting the existing three Jumbo Mark II vessels into hybrid-electric vessels and developing terminal charging infrastructure.

“So, those three big boats will be converted to hybrid,” said John Vezina, government relations director for Washington State Ferries. “One of those has been paid for. ‘Move Ahead Washington’ pays for the other two, so that we can get the most out of those boats.”

The respective chairs of the Senate and House Transportation Committees, Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, and Rep. Jake Fey-Tacoma, will provide the WSTC with insights on the passage of “Move Ahead Washington” this week.

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Source: KPVI News

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