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Washington already has a clear roadmap for better transportation. The Washington Environmental Justice Task Force and Washington State Department of Transportation have already identified climate-forward, performance-based projects that we need to prioritize. We support the priorities already set forth by those agencies.


  • Invest based on statewide goals
    In 2020, at the legislature’s request, the Washington State Department of Transportation studied new models for measuring transportation success. Rather than measuring success on traffic speed alone, we could be optimizing for emissions reduction, personal safety, mobility, equity, and more. The Environmental Justice Task Force in particular has important guidance on how to measure and address health disparities. Any new package should be assembled in order to help meet these goals. At the same time, we need to fund the next stage of both WSDOT and the Environmental Justice Task Force’s research and adopt their recommendations for future investment decisions and structural equity changes.

  • Fully fund our transit needs
    The pandemic has laid bare that a base level of transit service is essential to keep our economy open. Though a quarter of Washingtonians lack a drivers’ license, just 3% of state transportation funding supports public transit. Fully fund transit capital needs, as identified by the Joint Transportation Committee’s Needs Assessment, including maintenance and bus retrofits. Provide state support for transit agencies to do low-income or free fare pilots. Start providing direct operations assistance to help support baseline needs.

  • Fully fund biking and walking infrastructure
    Investment in active transportation is the best possible investment in jobs and is critical to address the hundreds of people who are killed or injured each year rolling or walking. We must fund safe and complete networks of sidewalks, crosswalks and protected bike lanes, in line with what the Washington State Department of Transportation prioritizes in its Active Transportation Plan.

  • Accelerate to electric
    Accelerate Washington’s shift to electric fleets, freight, trucks, ferries, port facilities and railways, especially in areas with high impacts from tailpipe pollution. Support Transportation Network Company and port electrification by creating a fund to transition driver-owned trucks and TNC vehicles for the benefit of all.

  • Fix it first
    Making massive investments in highway expansion now will only generate further expenses down the road as we increase pollution and create a backlog of maintenance. Instead, we must care for the assets we have already built by prioritizing safety, maintenance and preservation of current highways over expensive and harmful expansion.

  • Invest in a healthy watershed and salmon habitat
    Past investments have undermined watershed health, creating billions of dollars in barriers to meet our salmon recovery and water quality requirements. The State has the obligation to invest in meeting our water quality and salmon recovery goals as part of the overall investment in our transportation network’s health and Tribal Treaty obligations. Investing to reduce toxic pollution through stormwater retrofits and improved fish passage is needed to meet our watershed and salmon recovery goals.


  • Use progressive, stable, carbon-friendly revenue sources Relying on declining gas tax income to pay for transportation will only encourage Washington to stay dependent on gasoline longer than we can afford. The legislature should find new, carbon-friendly sources of revenue for transportation. For example, an Air Quality Surcharge on all new or newly registered vehicles based on the vehicle’s estimated lifetime greenhouse gas pollution.

  • Put a price on impact
    There are serious and costly environmental and social impacts of status quo transportation including greenhouse gas emissions, toxic air pollutants, dirty stormwater runoff, traffic congestion, and preventable injuries and deaths. Those contributing the most to the problem — especially major polluters, producers of dirtier vehicles and fuels, and upstream pollution creators — need to bear these costs, which are even higher in areas with existing disparities. Higher costs for development, investments or energy sources that encourage or create sprawl, reduction or destruction of resource lands, or increase impervious surfaces, and incentives for building affordable housing and commercial space near transit. Include higher consequences for behaviors associated with injury and death, including: congestion, speeding, and blocked intersections.

  • Allow us to spend on things other than highways
    If we want a 21st century transportation system we can’t use last century’s outdated rules to get there. Do not restrict any new revenue to highways. Use existing revenue for mitigation and repair of past harms resulting from highway infrastructure, and to maintain or preserve existing highways rather than building new. For example, revenue from a new Road Usage Charge should be directed to multimodal, maintenance, and preservation investments.

  • Those who can afford to pay more should pay their fair share
    Use progressive revenue sources and structures so that revenue burden does not fall disproportionately on low-income payers. Charge higher fees and taxes on those with higher income and wealth, and target corporations and profits over individuals. For example, a Luxury Transportation Tax on yachts, private jets, and luxury vehicles.


  • Historically under-resourced communities
    Make sure revenues and implementation do not exacerbate disparities for people of color, immigrants, and refugees as well as people who are low-income, disabled, elderly, or unbanked. Do not disproportionately penalize people who have been displaced to or live in rural areas and who often travel further distances.

  • Workers and small businesses
    Ensure revenue sources do not negatively impact workers and small businesses, and make sure workers who drive as part of their job are supported in the transition away from fossil fuels. Use transportation as an opportunity to support Washington’s home grown economy through local manufacturing, retailers, and other goods and service providers.

These principles build on recommendations for revenue and investment first published by the Clean and Just Coalition in November 2020.


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