Gov. Jay Inslee today joined more than 90 community, business, labor and civic leaders in urging lawmakers to approve a new round of transportation improvements and projects.
Inslee and representatives from the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle, area legislators and long-time SR 509 and SR 167 stakeholders convened at the Port of Tacoma near the proposed SR 509/SR 167 Gateway project. This project will significantly improve freight mobility for area businesses and connect the state's largest ports to key distribution centers in King and Pierce Counties and to Eastern Washington.
"There's little we can do to grow our economy if we don't address the fundamental need to provide businesses and workers with a reliable and efficient way to get people and products where they need to be," said Inslee. "We also need to recognize that new investments must come with a new level of accountability. Legislators and members of the public want to be assured these projects are constructed as efficiently as possible and deliver real benefits."
Inslee shared what he called key principles for a 2013 transportation package:
- Jobs -- In addition to short-term construction jobs, transportation investments must spur long-term economic benefits in the form of reduced commute times or quicker freight movement
- Fix it first and maintain what we have -- Today, driving on roads in need of repair costs Washington motorists $272 per motorist a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs. More than 1 in 5 bridges in Washington are considered functionally obsolete and 67% of Washington's roads are in poor or mediocre condition. We need to ensure the safety of existing roadways and bridges and address the backlog of maintenance projects that has built up over time.
- Finish what we've started and invest in the future -- We've made down payments on numerous major projects, and it's time to finish them. These projects include the Columbia River Crossing in Vancouver, the SR 167/SR 509 corridor in Pierce County, the SR 520 floating bridge in King County and the Snohomish County freight corridor.
- Explore new ways of funding a balanced and multimodal system -- Our quality of life calls on us to make investments that protect our transportation assets, preserve our natural environment, and offers transportation choices including roads, trains, light rail, buses and bike paths.
Inslee's accountability action plan calls on the Washington State Department of Transportation to right-size projects to avoid excess costs, use Lean management for efficiency, facilitate permitting to speed up completion, increase transparency to reduce errors, and reward innovation in cost-effective construction and management.
Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) has released a proposed transportation package that Inslee says is the right first step. He asked those at today's meeting to urge their lawmakers to move forward and work with Clibborn to pass a package this session.
"We have a great opportunity in the next two weeks to fill potholes, fix bridges, provide new transportation options and lay new pavement for people who are sick of sitting in traffic," said Inslee. "Washington's businesses rely on our roads, and so do Washington's families. Let's get this done."