Here are some highlights – or mostly lowlights – from the transportation section of the Governor’s budget proposal put together earlier in the month. The budget is “balanced” for the next six years, which means that given projected revenue and planned spending, the budget will not require more cuts or increases for each of the next three two year (biennium) periods. The numbers aren’t pretty for that six-year period or the following biennium (2015-2017), where there’s a $850 million shortfall.
This budget will be brought to the legislature, who will make a fair number of changes before sending this back to the governor to sign into law. So don’t take the list below as guaranteed, though it portends of the cuts to come. I wonder how much this will resemble what does get through the legislature, and I hope the few bright spots, shown below, don’t get hacked out of it.
This budget is horrific. Funding for the Point Defiance Bypass is pushed way out, since it’s not in any budget through 2015. That project was already underfunded by $15 million, and now it could be underfunded by $50 million. This means there won’t be Sounder service to Lakewood for at least that long. The Vancouver Rail Bypass is also absent from the budget. The ferry budget is only balanced for 2009-2011, and even that that’s with service reductions and fare increases. After that ferry budget shortfalls reappear in the 2011-13 biennium, and in the 2013-2015 biennium.
There is a massive $30 million, or 43%, cut to the Regional Mobility Grant Program. These grants are used mostly to fund park and rides and rush-hour transit service. Projects like Community Transit’s SWIFT get most of their capital funding from these grants and the South Lake Union streetcar also got a sizable contribution from this program. A 43% cut to this program is essentially a 43% cut in the state’s contribution to transit capital improvements.
Gory details below the fold.
The budget has $3.0 billion in road construction for the 2009-2011 biennium, and $2.5 billion for the 2011-2013. This is similar to the levels we’ve seen over the last few biennums. For 2007-2009 the budget is $2.5 billion. Still, some major projects are delayed:
- SR 522 Snohomish River Bridge, widening is delayed 6 years
- SR 14 Camus Washougal widening delayed 2 years
- The Yelm loop and the new SR 167 freeway are delayed indefinitely.
- There’s still no plan for SR 520, though pontoon construction will begin in 2009 and a new Grays Harbor pontoon construction factory will come online in 2010.
- Vanpool funding is doubled, to $12 million, for 460 new vans. Apparently, this will reduce vehicle miles travelled by 15.6 – 27.2 million miles annually
- Park and rides expansion by 1,000 spaces. This will reduce vehicle miles travelled by up to 33.6 million miles annually.
- Commute Trip Reduction programs expanded to smaller and medium-sized employers, reducing 25,000 weekday morning trips and 128 million annual vehicle miles travelled by 2011.
Most of these roads projects I won’t miss, and any progress on 520 is welcome news, since there never has been a funding plan. The vanpool, park and ride, and commute trip reductions are an earnest improvement. I pray that these make it into the official budget the legislature adopts.
- There’s no new money for Alaskan Way Viaduct beyond the currently allocated $2.4 billion
- Kelso-Martin’s Bluff rail project is delayed 2 years, to 2013-15.
- The Tacoma HOVimprovement project is delayed 2 years. The cost of this series of mini-projects has risen dramatically, from $425 million in 2005 to $1 billion now.
- The 167/I-405 HOV improvements, a partnership between Sound Transit and WSDOT, is delayed 2 years.
- Braided ramps on I-405 in Bellevue delayed 2 years
- There’s a 5.7% or $2.1 million cut in Amtrak operating budget.
- The previously mentioned Regional Mobility Cut
Each of these could have a series impact on transit or passenger rail service over the next coming years. The 5.7% rail cut is huge.
The ugly, or its proper name, Washington State Ferries 2009-2011 budget:
- There’s a $15 million or 6% capital budget increase.
- A $2.7 million, or 0.6% operation decrease, with the following service reductions:
- Eliminate Sidney run by September, 2009 .
- The Point Defiance-Tahlequah run will move to a 34-car ship from a 48-car ship.
- Fares will increase by the maximum amount allowed by law, 2.5%, each year.
- Only one new ferry is funded, the one already bid on earlier this year.
- No funding for new 144-car ships in the next 6 years.
Going forward, there are huge gaps in the ferries budget for 2011-2013 and 2013-2015. The cuts are so serious, that the ferries are looking to pass operations on to locally funded ferry districts. By 2015, the Washington State Ferries service will not exist in the same form as they do today.
Help us, Barack Obama, you’re our only hope!