The legislature has passed a “no new taxes” transportation budget. However, a revenue package has yet to be passed, and the question of how to pay for the budget will be taken up in special session.
But as Sightline Daily reports, the budget gives the lion’s share — $3.835 billion of the $3.878 billion project total — for highway mega-projects, including $1.2 billion for the Puget Sound Gateway Project; $675 million for I-405 widening; $450 million towards the Columbia River Crossing project.
Why should we in ferry-dependent communities care about mega-projects like the Columbia River Crossing? As is clear in the current budget, money spent on highway mega-projects is money that is not available for ferries, transit, pedestrian infrastructure, rail, and everything else besides new highway construction. Billions spent on new mega-projects will also greatly increase our long term maintenance obligations; and as we see time and again, money for maintaining our current infrastructure always seems to come up short.
The Seattle Transit Blog recently ran an excellent series of posts on the Columbia River Crossing:
- The CRC Mega-Highway Project, Part 1 of 3
- CRC: The Misunderstood Mega-Project, Part 2 of 3
- CRC Mega-Highway: How we can move forward, Part 3 of 3
Every Washington resident should be very concerned that such a disproportionate amount of scarce transportation funding continues to be allocated to new enormous highway projects, especially as we have yet to finish paying for the most recent highway mega-projects: the 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way tunnel.