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Published on February 22, 2024
Washington Lawmakers Propose Multibillion-Dollar Budgets for State Transportation and Eco-Friendly ProjectsSource: Bluedisk at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Olympia's Capitol Hill has been buzzing this week with legislators dropping hefty budget proposals, Washington House and Senate each revealing their multimillion-dollar visions for the state's transportation game plan, pumping cash into ferry systems, fish passages, and keeping highways from falling apart. The House rolled out its $14.3 billion number on Monday, bulking it up by $821 million from the previous biennial budget, while the Senate edged ahead slightly with a $14.6 billion pitch a day later, according to KING5 News.

It's not just about keeping things shipshape, they're looking to go green too, with the House budget tabbing $58 million for constructing five hybrid-electric ferries but in stark contrast to their roadway revival romance, the House delivered a cold shoulder to the SR 520 bridge project in North Capitol Hill, this according to a report from The Urbanist, pushing the lid and trail extension into an indefinite limbo, despite the south bridge's shaking knees at the thought of an earthquake.

Chair of the House Transportation Committee Rep. Jake Fey summed up the strategy behind the budget increases, saying, "What we aim to do with this proposal is avoid getting into further difficulty and increase our deficit," as KING5 News quotes; a nod to the freight of unexpected cost hikes plaguing projects like the beleaguered ferry system and highway upkeep.

And it's not just about the roads, Spokane got a shoutout too in the statewide spend-fest, with lawmakers flagging funds for bike paths and wildfire recovery, amidst a broader budgetary embrace of education, health, and green initiatives, all detailed in a piece from The Spokesman-Review.