House Transportation leaders Thursday unveiled a proposal adding $770 million to the two-year, $9.8 billion budget enacted last year, with most of the funds dedicated to the 520 bridge project.
Lawmakers said $55 million would go toward immediate needs, from buying a new 144-car ferry to restoring the State Patrol’s auto theft program.
It is far short of the $3.6 billion in transportation funds that Gov. Chris Gregoire had sought to secure over the next decade. In December, a task force she convened said the state needs to raise $21 billion over 10 years for projects on roads, bridges, ferries and other transportation requirements.
The House’s proposal will also have to be reconciled with the Senate’s transportation funding measures, which don’t include fees that House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said she hoped would be included in the final budget.
The House proposal would set aside money for future projects, including $7.5 million to ease congestion on I-5 along Joint Base Lewis-McChord and around Federal Way and $5 million for the north Spokane corridor.
“This budget is full of projects and progress that will keep people at work but also keep our economy moving,” said Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds.
Lawmakers said the proposed budget would add or preserve 43,000 jobs.
Not counting funding for the 520 bridge project — previously dedicated money that is being freed up — the proposed budget would actually decrease by $140 million, mainly due to unexpectedly low project bids and decreased debt service.
The proposed budget appears to have bipartisan support on the House Transportation Committee, though Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington, said he’d like to see more emphasis on cost savings.
by speeding up environmental reviews on bridge expansions and other projects.
“We all recognize how important this is,” Hargrove said of maintaining a functioning transportation system.