Coalition calls on lawmakers: Transportation system is vital to state’s economic recovery.

Transportation investment in Washington has long been a bipartisan priority, with broad support from labor, business and environmental groups. It is again this year, as a Seattle Times op-ed demonstrates. The commentary by Larry Brown, president of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Alex Hudson, executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition; and Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable, makes the case for action this session. 

Noting the pandemic’s effect on the state economy, the three write,

…it is essential that lawmakers prioritize investments that will get people back to work and support economic growth into the future.

Washington’s transportation system is vital to that recovery.

Our roads, bridges, ferries, ports and transit systems serve as the lifeblood of commerce and daily life. But, like so many businesses, families and communities across Washington, our transportation system has been pummeled by the pandemic.

Transportation revenues — gas-tax collections, tolls, fares and other fees — have taken a nosedive. Vital projects have been stopped or postponed. Transit service has been reduced or cut. Communities are struggling with roads and bridges in serious decline amid budget shortfalls. 

They note legislative action is already being considered.

This legislative session, we have an opportunity to get started on fixing big problems — not just of transportation, but of equity and economic stability for our communities. Already we have seen two proposals, a 16-year $27 billion package from House Democrats and a 16-year $18 billion to $19 billion package from the Senate Transportation chair, Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens. There is also debate about a carbon-reduction measure that may become part of a transportation investment package. We welcome these proposals as the starting point to a vital conversation. 

Read the whole commentary. The appeal, which amplifies issues raised earlier this year by a broad coalition of more than 100 groups, is compelling.