The planned transportation package includes $1.8 billion to replace the aging westbound span of the U.S. 2 trestle between Lake Stevens and Everett. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

The planned transportation package includes $1.8 billion to replace the aging westbound span of the U.S. 2 trestle between Lake Stevens and Everett. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

U.S. 2 trestle rebuild part of Senate transportation package

Time is short to get the $17.8 billion plan passed. Its link to climate change bills adds intrigue.

OLYMPIA — After weeks of discussing a multi-billion dollar transportation package in mostly abstract terms, it got real Monday.

The Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing on legislation underlying a 16-year, $17.8 billion undertaking which would rebuild the U.S. 2 trestle in Snohomish County, pay Washington’s share of a new I-5 bridge across the Columbia River, remove state-owned culverts, construct new state ferries and bolster public transit systems.

Specifically, in Snohomish County, there’s $1.8 billion to replace the aging westbound span of the U.S. 2 trestle between Lake Stevens and Everett, $90 million to widen a three-mile stretch of Highway 522 between Monroe and Maltby, $58.5 million to complete the Monroe bypass and $58.2 million for widening of Highway 9 north of Clearview.

But with less than two weeks remaining in the regular session, its passage is far from guaranteed. A special session might be required.

“I think we can get it done,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the committee chairman and chief architect of the plan. “I believe we can craft a bill that all of Washington can benefit from.”

Supporters hope so too.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we can get a transportation package this session, but it’s very late and the public has yet to be fully engaged,” said Clifford Traisman, a lobbyist for the League of Conservation Voters and Washington Environmental Council. “Each passing day makes it more difficult to get it done.”

To fund this endeavor, Hobbs drew from a menagerie of sources.

Primarily it counts on $5.1 billion from a proposed carbon emission cap-and-trade program and $5.2 billion from a 9.8-cent increase in the gas tax.

Smaller sums are pencilled in from 28 other taxes and fees. There’s a statewide assessment on new construction, a hike in sales tax on auto parts and a boost to the rental car tax. Also on the list is a new per trip fee on food delivery and ride-share services such as DoorDash and Uber and increases in weight fees, license plate charges and the excise tax on boats 16-foot and larger.

This list — which he cribbed together with other senators on the committee — also calls for diverting sales tax paid on new hybrid and electric vehicles away from the state’s general fund and into this package starting in 2026.

At a hearing Monday, opposition emerged to several of the fees. Several individuals with physical challenges also criticized the plan for not making enough investments in programs and services for those who cannot or do not drive.

“We are your young, old, disabled and low-income constituents. And we are demanding that you start to listen,” said Anna Zivarts of the Disability Mobility Initiative. “We will continue to fight for a transportation system that meets our basic needs.”

And environmentalists voiced concern that money generated from the cap-and-trade program is getting spent on roads rather than reducing carbon emissions.

Traisman estimated $1.3 billion of carbon revenue is earmarked for projects without a clear nexus for curbing air pollution.

Hobbs said late Monday he’s making tweaks on sources of revenues and expenditures. Changes should be ready for review when the Senate panel meets Wednesday to vote on the package.

Meanwhile, politics surrounding this package are huge.

It is, for now, inextricably linked with two climate-change bills sought by Gov. Jay Inslee — one targeting pollution from industries through a carbon emission cap-and-trade program and the other targeting tailpipe emissions through a low carbon fuel standard. Both bills contain language making them contingent on approval of a transportation revenue package.

The sponsor of the low carbon fuel standard, House Bill 1091, dislikes the linkage which was inserted by the Democrat-led Senate.

“I think it’s bad practice to make an entire bill contingent on passage of another bill,” said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien. “The bill as passed by the Senate is not a bill that could be implemented successfully.”

Five Democratic senators figured he might feel that way. They sent Fitzgibbon a letter Saturday laying out “the Senate changes to the legislation that must stay in the final bill to earn our support.” One of those is maintaining the link with the transportation package.

Fitzgibbon said he “wasn’t thrilled about the letter” but hopeful the two chambers can find ways to assure the goals laid out in the letter are met, including finding revenue for transportation.

“I’d love to see a transportation package move. I don’t see a transportation package really moving right now,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like we’re on the verge of that happening right now.”

In the meantime, the House Transportation Committee is waiting for receipt of Hobbs’ legislation. That might not happen before the weekend, giving the chair, Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, little time to get it passed in his chamber.

“This one looks like it’s got a lot of stops left,” Fey said. “It’ll be a challenge but not an impossibility.”

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

Talk to us

More in Local News

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers (top left) and Snohomish County Health District Administrative Officer Shawn Frederick (top right) give a COVID-19 update Tuesday in Everett. (Snohomish County Health District)
Kids are big part of coronavirus surge in Snohomish County

After seven weeks in decline, the county’s case rate has increased. About a fifth of new cases were kids under 14.

Top row (L-R): Paul Roberts, Mary Fosse, Paula Rhyne, Greg Lineberry, Don Schwab. Bottom row (L-R):Lacey Sauvageau, Tommie Rubatino, Liz Vogeli, Ben Zarlingo, Demi Chatters.
Who’s running for Everett council? New candidates — a lot of them

Ten people are vying for positions newly defined by districts. Only two are incumbents.

Police block roads in south Everett in search for suspect

Officers were trying to arrest a suspect near Everett Mall Way and Third Avenue Southeast.

Steve Oss (left) and Cassie Franklin.
Budget and homelessness at center of Everett mayor’s race

Steve Oss, a longtime transit worker, is challenging incumbent Cassie Franklin.

FILE - This October 2021, photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium. The U.S. moved a step closer to expanding vaccinations for millions more children as a panel of government advisers on Tuesday, Oct. 26, endorsed kid-size doses of Pfizer's shots for 5- to 11-year-olds. (Pfizer via AP, File)
Pfizer vaccines for younger kids expected in state next week

The Health Department estimates about 30% of parents will seek shots immediately for children ages 5-11.

Residents move out of an apartment Wednesday afternoon in the Whispering Pines Complex in Lynnwood on August 25, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Housing authority traded $2,000 for Lynnwood tenants’ silence

Low-income tenants agreed not to sue or discuss a traumatic housing search, amid Whispering Pines’ impending demolition.

Gene Simmons impersonator, Jack Murrin practices on there bass guitar at his storage building on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 in Everett, Washington. Murrin, 51, a firefighter and impersonator, is putting on a 2-hour KISS concert with 19 songs in front of his north Everett home on Halloween.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
The Demon: Gene Simmons imitator hosts a free Kiss concert

Everett firefighter and paramedic Jack Murrin will return to the stage for a Halloween show at his home.

The parking lot of a Lynnwood apartment complex in the 19800 block of 50th Avenue West where a man was allegedly stabbed Friday night. (Lynnwood Police)
Lynnwood man arrested for allegedly stabbing acquaintance

They were arguing at an apartment complex and began fighting.

Caregiver charged with raping Everett woman with dementia

A DNA sample found “very strong support” that Kelvin Njeru was the suspect, prosecutors allege.

Most Read