Two substantive efforts to consider reforms of WSDOT and transportation spending are underway.
The Legislature mandated a study of transportation cost-drivers. Meanwhile, Senate Transportation Committee Co-Chair Curtis King has announced a series of meetings around the state to review reform proposals.
House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn chairs the advisory committee overseeing the Transportation Project Efficiencies Study required by the Legislature.
“As we make policy we need to do it from an educated point of view, and not just have it be something we pulled out of the air that we heard two years ago and nobody has ever been able to validate,” said Rep. Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, at the committee’s first meeting. “The other side of it is that there are some things that are myths and there are some things that are reality, and we have to deal with them in a realistic way.”
The study will conclude with a report to the Legislature on the cost drivers by the end of the year.
On a separate track, Sen. King, R-Yakima, said he has contacted WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson, requesting her agency’s cooperation in coordinating a series of public meetings around the state. King said he and his colleagues in the Senate’s Majority Coalition Caucus would like to gather as much input as possible from Washington residents and WSDOT officials in various regions around the state in order to craft a viable transportation package that could be supported by lawmakers as well as taxpayers.
“In order to pass a transportation package of any substance there will likely be a need for additional revenue to pay for projects,” King said, “but before we go to the people asking for more money, the state needs to prove that it’s already stretching every dollar it has. We’ve compiled a list of ten reforms that could be implemented to save millions of dollars with minimal impact to other areas of the budget, and it’s our intention to discuss those ideas with DOT and the public at these meetings.”
King’s letter to Peterson requests that regional administrators present a prioritized list of projects based upon safety, congestion relief and economic development, and asks that their list contain a detailed scope and a cost estimate for each project that would be valid through the 2014 legislative session. In addition, the letter asks for reform suggestions from each regional office and seeks to encourage public comment on the Majority Coalition Caucus list of specific reform proposals. The proposals include exempting transportation construction projects from the state sales tax, streamlined permitting and an “open dialogue about prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements.”
Click here for more info about these meetings.