The Roundtable works to effect positive change on public policy issues that are most important to supporting state economic vitality and fostering opportunity for all Washingtonians. That work includes sharing news and analyzing policy developments affecting our state.

Time to act on transportation funding

As The Seattle Times editorializes today, transportation negotiations are underway in the legislature and the need for a new comprehensive investment package – the first in a decade – is clear. As the Times writes:

At this point, lawmakers should not need to be reminded why a package is needed. But just in case, smart investments are necessary because poor freight mobility remains a threat to the region’s trade-dependent economy; without new revenue dedicated to maintenance, 60 percent of roads will fall into the category of “poor or very poor” in the next decade, jeopardizing safety; and worsening congestion in the Puget Sound region is a soul-sucking hell.

Let’s say that again, because it’s important, 60 percent of roads in poor condition or worse if Washington doesn’t take action on new transportation investment.  That’s not a problem for some of us, it’s a problem in every part of the state.  Research conducted by The Boston Consulting Group just last fall outlines the consequences of inaction:

If Washington doesn’t increase its investment in the preservation and maintenance of roads and bridges and make improvements in key economic corridors, by 2026:

  • Overall congestion statewide will rise to 109 million hours per year, costing drivers $940 annually.
  • Sixty percent of state highway pavement will be rated in “poor” condition or worse, costing drivers $1,040 per year in vehicle maintenance costs.
  • Forty percent of bridges will be functionally obsolete or structurally deficient.
  • Preservation and maintenance of existing highways will be nine times more expensive, escalating to $2.7 million per mile.
  • Trade volumes at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma will be flat or declining.

That’s the risk.  The reward is equally great.  In fact, a $7 billion investment would generate a $42 billion return over 30 years.  That’s a six-fold return. Here’s a look at the ROI:

Better roads.  Better bridges. More economic growth. It’s time for action to get Washington moving.

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