OLYMPIA, WA - The Washington State Transportation Commission has approved a 20-year Washington Transportation Plan 2030. The plan highlights the need for additional revenue to maintain existing systems due to the decline in gas tax revenues.
According to the plan, total unfunded state, regional, and local transportation needs through 2030 are estimated at $175 - $200 billion. This total includes 20-year transit needs estimated at $49 billion to maintain current service levels, and city, county, and regional transportation needs estimated at $69 billion. At the same time, transportation revenues continue to decline due to the decline in gas tax revenues.
The plan states: "The reliance on the fuel tax as a primary revenue source makes state transportation funding vulnerable to decreases in fuel consumption. A number of factors have and could decrease demand for fuel in the future, including fuel price increases, greater fuel efficiency of vehicles, shifts to hybrid and all electric vehicles, and a decline in vehicle miles traveled."
It evaluates needs and recommends actions to maintain and improve mobility for highways, local roads, mass transit, freight and passenger rail, ferries, barges, airports, and biking and walking trails.
To avoid further cuts to the transportation system and risk the state's economic health, the plan recommends the legislature take action in the next two years to generate much-needed revenue. Recommendations in the plan include:
- Indexing the fuel tax to inflation.
- Placing fees or taxes on alternative fueled vehicles.
- Giving cities and counties more authority to generate revenue so that they can independently meet their funding needs.
In addition, the commission recommends additional funding authority for transit agencies, increased use of tolling where feasible, and the continuation of tolls after construction bonds are paid in order to ensure funding is available in the future to maintain the tolled facilities. The commission advocates for a statewide excise tax based on vehicle value to serve as a stable, new source of dedicated funding for Washington State Ferries capital needs.
A PDF of the Washington Transportation Plan 2030, with the complete list of recommendations, can be found here.