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Transportation 2019 Session Paper

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Effective transportation of employees, customers and goods is essential to sustain continued health of our state’s growing economy. The complete and timely implementation of the $16 billion Connecting Washington transportation funding package will help improve our transportation network.

Additional improvements beyond this funding package are needed, particularly along the I-405, I-90 and SR 18 corridors. These improvements are essential not only for the movement of people but are also critical for free-flowing movement of goods between our ports, the rest of Washngton State and our nation.

The East King County Chambers of Commerce Legislative Coalition requests the Legislature to do the following on our behalf:

Support Transportation Technologies

We see a tremendous opportunity with emerging transportation technologies, to increase mobility, reduce congestion, limit our carbon footprint and connect people with economic opportunities. Specifically, private firms are poised to introduce automated, connected, shared electric vehicles (ACES) to market.

Prepare our region to be an early beneficiary of these technologies, by enacting supportive state and local public law changes, including but not limited to the following:

  • Eliminate statutory barriers to operation of employer transportation service vehicles;;
  • Adopt public law changes to encourage public/private partnerships;
  • Create a statewide business license for transportation network companies (TNC’s);
  • Allow private shuttle providers access to publicly funded park and ride lots, as well as state owned property;
  • Incentivize use of transportation network companies (TNC’s), employer transportation service vehicles and other shared mobility options under the 1991 Commute Trip reduction;
  • Enact public law changes to authorize deployment of an autonomous, platooned freight vehicle pilot program on the I-405/SR 167 corridor;
  • Provide state partnership resources for an initial flexible commute pool program on the I-405/SR 167 corridor, as part of the 2019-21 Transportation Budget;
  • Authorize and fund Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) charging stations along the I-405/SR 167 corridor, utilizing resources from the Volkswagen Ag settlement trust fund, the state multimodal fund and other accounts as appropriate;
  • Restore the sales tax exemption on alternative fueled vehicles;
  • Enact additional measures encouraging electrification of public transportation fleets.

Provide Additional Transportation Funding

We urge the Legislature to authorize additional funding, beyond current law levels, to complete implementation of the adopted I-405 Master Plan, as well as improvements to other highways of statewide significance such as I-90, SR-18, SR-520, SR 522 and SR-169. In particular, we support investments which will provide speed and reliability for all modes and increase, rather than decrease, total person trips throughout the region – including targeted capacity expansion of I-405.

To accommodate the significant growth in vehicle volume, reduce congestion and increase safety, our project-specific priorities for the 2017-19 Biennium, are as follows:

  • I-405 ,SR 520 and SR 522 Corridors
    • Fully fund completion of the I-405 Master Plan, including the following projects;
    • Fund design and construction of general purpose ramps, southbound from I-405 to NE 10th;
    • Fund the design and construction of the planned 1/2 diamond interchange at Main Street and I-405, as part of the Main Street overpass replacement project;
    • Fund the full buildout of the I-405/520 interchange;
    • Extend the current I-405 northbound auxiliary lane from the I-405/SR 520 interchange to the NE 70th off-ramp;
      • Plan and fund SR 522 north/south grade separated crossings, queue jumps, widening and other improvements to alleviate growth and toll diversion;
    • Accelerate planning and funding of a new interchange at I-405/SR 522, as well as new park and ride capacity in the vicinity;
    • Ensure the reconstruction of the I-405/NE 44th interchange remains on time and on budget, to accommodate Bus Rapid Transit;
    • Fund I-405 interchange improvements at I-405 and N 8th Street with “direct access” ramps providing connections to/from the HOV lanes on I-405;
    • Fund and construct a full diamond interchange at SR 520/124th NE;
    • Initiate a master plan process for the SR 520 corridor, from the I-405 interchange east to SR 202.
  • I-90 and SR 18 Corridors
    • Maintain funding and project schedule to rebuild the I-90/SR 18 interchange;
    • Complete SR 18 widening and safety improvements beyond current law funding;
      • Fund and implement I-90 shoulder lane hardening/enhancement, in both directions, east of I-405 by 2020.
      • Implement recommendations from WSDOT’s Interchange Justification Report, for improvements to the I-90/Front Street Interchange in Issaquah.
      • Request state partnership resources for park and ride capacity, in fast-growing communities outside the RTA taxing district.
  • SR 900, SR 167 and SR 169
    • Fund capacity and safety improvements.

Additional Policy Recommendations

We encourage the Legislature to affirm as a matter of public law that all toll revenues collected, be used exclusively for highway purposes. Similarly, proceeds from any new transportation revenue tools, must be dedicated solely to general transportation projects or operations and maintenance, and protected by law from diversion for other purposes, and placed in the Motor Vehicle Fund. We are not in favor of a vehicles miles travel fee (VMT). We encourage the legislature to provide flexible, voter approved, local option transportation taxes.

We urge the legislature to take caution in bonding toll revenues collected along the I-405/SR 167 corridor. Lawmakers should consider unintended consequences, including bond covenant restrictions on future uses of toll revenues for decades to come, the limitation of outright prohibition of future capacity Investments or opersations, and increasing debt service as a component of the state transportation budget.

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