A package of transportation bills that include an 11.9 cent gasoline tax increase and some $16 billion worth of projects around the state became law Wednesday. The first 7 cents of the new gasoline tax starts Aug. 1, the projects stretch into 2031.
The package took nearly three years of negotiations, compromises, false starts and debates in the Legislature. In signing it on the University of Washington campus, Gov. Jay Inslee called it a monument to the optimism of the state.
“Big things do take time,” said Inslee, who had called for a major transportation package in his inaugural address in 2013. To seal the deal this year, he had to give up his push for a carbon-reduction tax to get a wide-ranging package “for the greater good of our state”.
The long list of projects includes about $1 billion for the Spokane area. Much of that is taken by the $879 million to finish the North Spokane Corridor over the next 14 or so years. It also has money for interchanges on Interstate 90 for Medical Lake and Liberty Lake, a passing lane on U.S. 195 between Spangle and Colfax, the Central City Line, the University District Gateway Bridge for bikes and pedestrians, the Palouse River and Coulee City railroad rehabilitation.
“It doesn’t solve all of our problems,” Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Curtis King, R-Yakima, said. “It goes a long way to moving our state forward. It works for every part of the state.”