June 16, 2021

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Inslee, leaders call on state Legislature to fund transportation infrastructure

View of the University Bridge and I-5’s Ship Canal Bridge from a new waterfront park along Portage Bay in Seattle that opened in 2020. (MyNorthwest photo)

Gov. Inslee and transportation leaders said Friday that the state’s transportation infrastructure badly needs improvements, and they’re calling on the Washington State Legislature to pass a funding package.

Inslee points to roads full of potholes, deteriorating bridges, and ferry routes that often have to be stopped while the ferries are repaired.

“Our roads are becoming pothole-filled, our ferries are frequently broken down, and our bridges are now experiencing problems that we do not consider satisfactory,” he said.

“We can only defer maintenance so long,” he added. “The jig is up. We need to pass a transportation package to maintain our roads, bridges, and ferry systems.”

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He praised legislators for getting started with transportation funding plans early, but asked them to move faster before the session ends.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said it would cost nearly $2 billion per year to properly maintain infrastructure.

“Given the current backlogs, it would cost $1.8 billion each year to meet all of WSDOT’s maintenance and preservation needs,” Transportation Secretary Roger Millar said. “But the agency receives less than half of those funds.”

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Millar says they’re playing so much catch-up right now with maintenance to avoid dangerous deterioration that WSDOT is not able to invest in longer term projects.

KIRO Radio’s Nicole Jennings contributed to this report.