OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington lawmakers have given final approval to a historic $16 billion, 16-year transportation revenue package as they prepare to wrap up their 60-day legislative session Thursday.
The transportation revenue package, which passed both Democratic-led chambers on mostly party-line votes, spends on projects ranging from building new hybrid-electric ferries and funding more walking and biking corridors to highway maintenance and replacing fish passage culverts. Funding is also provided to ensure that those ages 18 and younger can ride for free on public transportation.
The Move Ahead Washington bill funds maintenance across the state that has fallen behind, replacing four aging state ferries with electric hybrids, and among other projects, finishing plans that expand freeways. Legislators say dipping into the general fund and other state programs lower tax implications for most drivers.
Unlike previous packages that have included gas tax increases, the plan gets a bulk of its funding — $5.4 billion — from a carbon pricing program signed into law last year that requires the state’s largest emitters, like refineries, to purchase credits for allowed emissions if they exceed a cap set by regulators.
"We avoided more toxic ways of funding," said 49th Legislative District Representative Sharon Wiley. "We didn’t do the license tab-- that’s toxic. We didn’t do gas tax, that’s a diminishing resource."
Legislators also allotted up $1 billion to replace one of Interstate-5’s oldest pieces of infrastructure, connecting Washington to Oregon.
While state and federal agencies will also have to identify their own funding, Wiley says replacing the old span is critical to our region.
"There are 100-year-old trees sitting in mud on an earthquake subduction zone," Wiley said. "It’s the only draw bridge on a highway of its kind in the entire country."
Gov. Jay Inslee shared his support for investments in carbon reduction, mass transit investments and more.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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