Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What it means when the governor said 'a major transportation package'

Photo: WSDOT
Gov. Chris Gregoire made news today by proposing a "major transportation package." (Here's the story: Gregoire to propose major transportation package)

What does that mean?

Let's translate that from Olympia speak to English.

Budgets -- There's a transportation budget every year, but that's different. With the usual budget, you basically keep things moving: fixing highways, running the ferries, funding the State Patrol.

Package -- A "major transportation package" is different, and doesn't happen often. The last one was in 2005, and what it does is fund all kinds of projects, big and small, that the regular transportation budget couldn't fund.

Here's what the 2005 "Nickel Package" funded and how the construction work is ramping up and ramping down.

Folks in Olympia call this The Mt. Rainier Slide, because it shows how the Nickel Package cranked up construction jobs, peaked around 2011 to 2013, then slide down back to normal.

Gov. Gregoire is making a simple point: the state population is growing, and more people are driving on the highways and using ferries, buses and trains. Unless we make plans now to get new projects rolling, there's nothing really in the pipeline after these current projects get finished, and that would mean more traffic gridlock.

Read this story in Spanish here.