December 19, 2016
Compiled by EvergreenStateNews.com staff
Olympia – The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) has announced their 2017 meeting schedule. Topics expected to be considered in the upcoming year are bridge and ferry tolls, the road usage charge pilot program and county and city transportation issues.
January 18 & 19, Olympia WA
February 15 & 16, Olympia WA
March 21 & 22, Olympia WA
April 26, Centralia WA
May 16 & 17, Olympia WA
June 20, Leavenworth WA
July 25, Kent WA
September 19, Friday Harbor
October 17 & 18, Olympia WA
November 14, Spokane Valley
December 12 & 13, Olympia WA
Meetings in Olympia will be during business hours (9am – 5pm). Times and some venues are to be determined. See the WSTC link above for details.
The Washington State Transportation Commission is a 7-member board that reviews transportation policy effectiveness and yearly issues a 20-year transportation plan. They also set tolling on Washington’s toll bridges and highways.
- Jerry Litt, Chair (Douglas County)
- Roy Jennings, Vice-Chair (Clark County)
- Joe Tortorelli (Spokane County)
- Anne Haley (Walla Walla County)
- Hester Serebrin (King County)
- Debbie Young (San Juan County)
- Shiv Batra (King County)
December 14, 2016
The Washington State Transportation Commission has set the fall of 2017 to roll-out a road usage charge pilot project for up to 2000 drivers. A road usage charge would charge drivers by the mile driven and supplant the gas tax that is currently paid by drivers of gas or diesel light duty vehicles.
A promotional website has been established to highlight the pilot program: www.waroadusagecharge.org.
According to the WSTC, the rationale for a change in how we fund state roads is that the buying power of gas tax revenues will dwindle as fuel efficiency increases and drivers move to electric and alternate fuels that are not subject to the gas tax.
Detractors of the program are concerned with the privacy issues that would come along with devices that would be likely to accompany such a state-wide program. Seattle radio show host Todd Herman interviewed Reema Griffith, Executive Director of the WSTC today on his AM-770 KTTH afternoon drive show on Wednesday about the new pilot program.
Griffith explained the pilot program and what the commission is hoping to learn from this pilot program.
“We don’t have all the answers on that right now, and again that’s why we’re studying it,” said Griffith.
Herman responds, “I will never participate. I will not comply. I never will because this is abhorrent to freedom. The government has no business knowing how many miles I drove.”
“If this was about increasing revenues, you could increase the gas tax. If it’s about alternative fuels, you could find a way to charge people at charging stations,” continues Herman.
Among the issues to be resolved are:
- How miles driven outside the state would be accounted for.
- Drivers’ aversion to installing technology in their automobiles which tracks their movements and mileage.
- Whether administrative costs would outweigh the benefit on a state-wide basis.
Another issue that wasn’t mentioned by Griffith but could become a reality is that the technology could be used to implement a variable pricing model for heavily-traveled routes not already designated as “hot lanes” as are in use on I-405 and SR-167. This could cost drivers more than they budget if driven at peak times when demand is high.
The commission will be evaluating results of the year-long pilot which could include additional issues that may be identified in the course of the pilot program.
Funding of $3.8 million for the pilot comes from the Federal Highway Administration. Oregon and California are also looking into similar payment models as are 12 other states.
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