OLYMPIA – Several tolling items, including future tolling for the State Route 99 tunnel in Seattle, are on the agenda for next week’s Transportation Commission meeting in Olympia.
The meeting starts 9 a.m. each day, Wednesday, Jan. 17, and Thursday, Jan. 18, at the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Ave. SE, on the Capitol Campus in Olympia.
On Wednesday, the commission will kick off the next update of the statewide transportation plan with a briefing on the suggested focus for the next plan. Commissioners also will discuss the public review and input process that will take place during 2018. The Washington Transportation Plan establishes a 20-year direction for the statewide transportation system, based on six transportation policy goals established by the Legislature related to: preservation, safety, mobility, environment, stewardship, and economic vitality.
Tolling items fill out the rest of Wednesday’s agenda. The Legislature has directed the Transportation Commission to adopt tolls to generate $200 million towards the construction cost of the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. At 1 p.m., the City of Seattle, King County Metro and the Northwest Seaport Alliance will share their priorities and concerns with prospective toll policies and rates. This input will inform the commission’s toll rate and policy proposal, which it will release in spring for public review and input. Tolls will be adopted in fall 2018 and will vary by time of day to manage congestion on the facility and impacts on surface streets.
In addition, commission and Washington State Department of Transportation staff will present recommended system-wide changes to toll policies and rules with the intent of greater consistency across all tolled facilities. Proposed changes will focus on toll exemptions, and if advanced, the proposed changes will be released in spring for public review and input before changes would be adopted. The commission also will discuss proposed changes to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge policy requiring maintenance of a sufficient minimum balance in the bridge’s account. Action by the commission on this policy is expected.
On Thursday, the commission will get a progress report on preparations for the upcoming launch of the statewide Road Usage Charge Pilot Project. A road usage charge (RUC) is a per-mile charge drivers would pay for the use of the roads, rather than paying by the gallon of gas. The RUC would be a replacement to the gas tax to provide a more sustainable, long-term funding source for transportation infrastructure, in light of growing fuel efficiency of new vehicles. The pilot project will have 2,000 volunteers from across the state testing four different ways to pay by the mile. It will run for the next 12 months to determine how the RUC works for drivers under various conditions and travel behaviors.
Thursday’s agenda also includes a legislative preview of 2018 priorities from city, county, port and transit partners, along with a report from WSDOT on its work exploring partnerships with the private sector that would potentially aid in the funding and financing of ferry terminal facilities, transit-oriented development, and the possible replacement of the US 2 westbound trestle in Snohomish County.
This commission meeting is open to the public and persons wishing to speak to the commission may do so during several public comment periods throughout the two-day meeting.
For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/