“Tipping Point” Prompts Commission to Propose 10 Cent Gas Tax Hike and More

The state Transportation Commission is proposing a 10-cent increase in the state gas tax to pay solely for the maintenance and preservation of state highways, city streets and county roads over the next 10 years.

The Commission says the state’s transportation network is “at the tipping point of failing to meet our basic needs.”  The proposed gas tax hike is just one part of the Commission’s $7.7 billion 10-year proposal:

Gas Tax – A five-cent increase in July of 2013 followed by a penny per year increase through 2019 would raise an estimated $2.55 billion.   The state would get 57% for highways and ferries, city streets and county roads would get 43%.

Car Tabs – A Motor Vehicle Excise Tax  (not on new cars) of 1.5% would raise an estimated $5 billion over 10 years.  The Commission proposes spending 90% of it on improvements to state highways and 10% on local transit and would sunset the tax after 10 years.

Weight Fee Increase – A gross weight fee of 15% would be applied to all trucks over 10,000 pounds, raising an estimated $110-120 million over 10 years.  The Commission proposes spending the new money on freight projects selected by the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board.

There’s lots more to the Commission proposal, which is one of several making the rounds among transportation interests in the prelude to the 2013 session of the state legislature.  You can get a copy by e-mailing info@psrc.org.


Gregoire Proposes New Fuel Tax for Schools

Governor Gregoire’s final budget proposal includes a call for new transportation investments and highlights priority projects, but she includes no specific investment proposal.

She does propose a new fuel tax – a wholesale excise tax on gas and diesel fuel sales of up to 4.62 percent – to ultimately shift $900 million per biennium for school transportation to the transportation budget.

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire

The Governor released her last general fund and transportation budget proposals today.

The Governor noted a lack of consensus among transportation interests on a new set of investments and the taxes to pay for them.  But she did highlight potential investment categories and potential new sources of funding to pay for them:

Essential investments must include:

  • Sufficient funds to operate, maintain and preserve the state’s transportation system
  • Funding for transit operations and maintenance
  • Funding for stormwater permit compliance and retrofit projects.
  • Funding to make progress on key economic corridors.
  • State contributions for local government operations and maintenance needs.
  • Local-option revenue authority for local governments and transit agencies to address their system needs.

Viable potential sources of funds include:

  • A fuel tax increase
  • A statewide motor vehicle excise tax
  • An increase in the weight fee for heavy trucks dedicated to freight investments
  • An increase in the hazardous substance tax dedicated to stormwater improvements
  • Tolling


Puget Sound Trends: Household Type and Size

Household Size chartThe average size of households in the central Puget Sound has remained about the same — 2.49 people — since 2000, slowing a trend toward shrinking household size.

While there has been little change in size, the composition of households over that time has changed significantly.

The percent of households with one or more persons under 18 years dropped nearly 8% between 2000 and 2010, while those with someone age 65 and over increased 11% between 2000 and 2010.

These trends for both age groups in the region mirror the nation and state.

Find out more about Household Type and Size in this month’s issue of Puget Sound Trends.



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Special Needs Transportation Projects out for Public Comment

The Transportation Policy Board has released a package of special needs transportation projects for public comment. The 35 projects are ranked and would become eligible for funding after the public has commented. Two funding sources will be available for these projects. Nearly $4 million from PSRC and an undetermined amount from the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Consolidated Grant Program.

Projects on the list that do not receive funding from either PSRC or WSDOT will be on a contingency list should any future funding become available. The public comment period runs from December 13, 2012 to January 24, 2013.

How to make a comment:
Mail: Puget Sound Regional Council
ATTN: Gil Cerise
1011 Western Avenue, Suite 500
Seattle, Washington 98104-1035
E-mail: gcerise@psrc.org
In Person: January 10 at 9:30 a.m. or January 24 at 10 a.m. at PSRC

See what else the Transportation Policy Board did today.

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Clibborn to Freight Roundtable: 2013 Package in the Works

Representative Judy Clibborn provided a “rough draft” overview of ideas for a new statewide transportation investment package to the Freight Mobility Roundtable on December 7th.

The Chair of the House Transportation Committee indicated that “the momentum is here” for a package in 2013, and noted “if you want a new revenue package, you can’t necessarily wait for the right time.”  But she also indicated that changes in leadership, along with general fund budget priorities – education is number one – could make movement on transportation tough in 2013. Read the rest

Region Shows Strong Economic Growth in Brookings Global MetroMonitor Indicators

According to The Brookings Institution, Seattle has “partially recovered from a major recession.” In the recent release of its Global MetroMonitor Indicators, Brooking analyzed gross domestic product per capita and employment change for the 300 largest metropolitan regions in the world from 2011 to 2012 and provided the data in a very cool interactive format.

The analysis ranks the Seattle metropolitan region as 83rd overall, in the second strongest quintile for economic performance. The region outperformed both Portland and Vancouver, but couldn’t out compete Houston, Louisville, Salt Lake City, and San Jose. The best performing region in the Americas is San Juan, Puerto Rico at 7th overall, which may add some intrigue into its statehood debate.

Macau is the top performing region in the world. China has the largest number of region’s in the top quintile. Regions throughout Europe appear to make up the bulk of the bottom quintile.


PSRC Executive Board Approves $30 Million in Transportation Funding

PSRC directed an additional $30 million in funding towards 35 transportation projects throughout the region thanks to higher than estimated allocations of 2012 federal funds.

The Burke Gilman Trail Opened in 1887 as the Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway. PSRC approved funds today to help upgrade the trail through the University of Washington.
Photo Courtesy of MOHAI

Construction Highlights Include:

  • UW Burke Gilman Trail Improvement Project (Rainier Vista to 15th Ave NE), $3 million
  • 52nd Ave W: Lynnwood City Limits to 148th St SW, $5.5 million
  • Interurban Ave S (S 143rd St to Fort Dent Way), $2.1 million
  • Bucklin Hill Estuary Enhancement and Bridge Construction Project, $1 million
  • Port of Seattle Terminal 18 Truck Access Improvements, $968,000

Transit Highlights Include:

  • Vanpool Van Replacement, $624,000
  • Seattle Central Waterfront Regional Passenger Only Ferry Terminal, $1.24 million
  • East Link Light Rail Extension, $588,000

View the complete list of projects that will receive funding. See what else the Executive Board did today.




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