Thursday, April 7, 2011

Transportation funding bill would help address growing backlog of needs

The last time the $5 fee for vehicle wreckers to renew their first set of license plates was 1961. The $15 fee you pay to renew your driver's license is the same fee your parents paid when they renewed their licenses in 1999.

Some legislators are thinking it might be a good time to revisit some of those fees. House transportation leaders, led by Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn, today introduced a bill to fund basic but overdue improvements for road maintenance and preservation, the State Patrol, ferries and transit.

The plan is paid for by updating several transportation fees, many of which haven’t changed in years. Realigning the fees will better reflect their actual administrative costs and would fund about $129 million worth of projects per biennium.

“We’ve made huge progress on transportation over the last several years. Nearly 300 projects are complete with more on the way from the 2003 and 2005 gas-tax packages, plus dozens more from federal economic recovery funds. But a backlog still remains,” said Clibborn.

At a Transportation Committee work session on Jan. 10, the Washington State Department of Transportation reported that basic maintenance, preservation and operations needs at both state and local levels are underfunded by roughly $3.5 billion over the next 10 years.

More information about the proposal is here.

A public hearing for the bill is set for Monday, April 11 at 8 a.m.