OLYMPIA — Lawmakers have come to an agreement on the $16 billion state infrastructure package, which will likely include not just the original $1 billion planned for the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program but $1.2 billion.
“I’m confident that the package will include $1.2 billion for an I-5 Bridge replacement that would represent Washington state’s commitment and responsibility for the funding of that project,” said state Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, who is a co-chair for Oregon and Washington’s Joint Committee on the Interstate 5 Bridge.
One of the package’s original revenue sources was a 6-cent exported fuel tax, which caused concerns and even threats of retaliation from neighboring states.
“I’m really pleased we are able to remove the exported fuel tax from that package and instead will replace it with a different revenue source,” said Cleveland.
The final paperwork is being processed for the package and is expected to be released by the conference committee Wednesday. Lawmakers expect to cast their votes on Wednesday, as well.
The last day of Washington’s legislative session is Thursday. As long as both the House and Senate approve the agreed-upon conference committee report, it will go to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.
“This is the reason I ran for office and went to the Legislature — to finally move forward on the very necessary, needed replacement to the I-5 Bridge,” said Cleveland. “So, I’m really pleased we’ve reached an agreement on a transportation revenue package.”
The senator said it’s important for Washington to step up and show a commitment to the project, in part because of the state Legislature withdrawing its commitment to the Columbia River Crossing project in the final steps of that project’s approval in 2013.
“That was such a betrayal of trust to our partners in Oregon and to the federal government,” said Cleveland. “I’ve worked tirelessly ever since — and that was 10 years ago — to make sure that we made good on our responsibility and that we build a new bridge that’s going to better serve the generations to come.
“Our kids and grandkids deserve a better crossing that provides more transit options, more bike and pedestrian options, is safer and isn’t a drawbridge, for heaven’s sake.”
Cleveland added she’s relieved and excited that consensus has been built up among her legislative colleagues in both Washington and Oregon.
The bridge project will also require a similarly sized financial commitment from the Oregon Legislature and additional funding from the federal government, as well as bridge tolling.
The transportation package also includes $5 million in funding for C-Tran’s next bus rapid transit project planned along Highway 99, as well as $6 million in funding for a long-promised bicycle and pedestrian overpass planned over state Highway 500 at Northeast Stapleton Road.