OLYMPIA – The effect lower traffic volumes due to the COVID-19 pandemic has had on tolled facilities, and potential toll rate changes in 2021 will be discussed at next week’s Washington State Transportation Commission meeting. Also, transportation organizations and agencies representing cities, counties, ports, transit, and the state will discuss their priorities for the 2021 legislative session and the year ahead.
The meeting starts at 9 a.m. both Tuesday, Jan. 19, and Wednesday, Jan. 20. Due to limitations on the size of gatherings in response to COVID-19, this meeting will be conducted virtually using GoToWebinar. People interested in attending can register on the commission’s website. The meeting will be broadcast live on TVW at www.tvw.org.
On Tuesday, staff will give an update of the Interstate 405 express toll lanes / State Route 167 high-occupancy toll lanes Low-Income Tolling Study. The study assesses the effects of tolling on low-income drivers of the I-405 express toll lanes / SR 167 HOT lanes and will identify possible approaches to mitigate impacts. The project team will present an assessment of proposed low-income toll program options and the commission will select which options will advance for further evaluation. A final report of findings and recommendations is due to the Legislature by June 30, 2021.
Next, the commission will hear from the Washington State Association of Counties on its 2020 Revenue Study, which includes recommendations on alterations to transportation funding and revenues. In addition, Joint Transportation Committee staff will brief the commission on its report to the Legislature on a options for funding transportation programs, projects, and services over the next ten years, including a timeline for legislative action on funding identified shortfalls.
The commission’s afternoon session will focus on the state’s tolled facility performance. The Office of the State Treasurer will provide financial updates on toll facilities, including results of financial models for the SR 520 Bridge and SR 99 Tunnel. Commission staff will provide an update on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge financial status. Washington State Department of Transportation staff will provide an update on changes to toll facility and toll system shared costs. WSDOT will also provide a draft work plan and timeline to support the WSTC’s rate setting process anticipated for SR 520 and SR 99 this year.
On Wednesday, commissioners will hear from various state and local agencies and organizations on priorities for and expectations of the 2021 legislative session. The commission is tasked with providing transportation policy recommendations to the Legislature and Governor, and these briefings keep the commission apprised of emerging priorities for all levels of government with transportation responsibilities.
For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/