State Transportation Policy & Funding
Values & Principles
Snotrac does not lobby on specific legislation. Instead, Snotrac convenes public, nonprofit, and private transportation and human services providers to find mobility gaps and opportunities for priority populations, and Snotrac then educates decision-makers on the identified needs.
In that vein, Snotrac's Board adopted the following state transportation funding values and principles in December 2021 and then adopted them permanently in December 2022 so that state legislators and other decision-makers may consider the needs of people who are otherwise often overlooked in policy and funding decision-making.
The paramount obligation is to ensure the safety of all people using our streets and roads. Roadways can be made inherently safe, even accounting for human error, through design and engineering.
Traffic violence disproportionately affects people who are walking and biking, people of color, and people with low incomes. Traffic fatalities and serious injuries decreased from 2005 to 2013, but have since been on the rise. Proven strategies in roadway design and engineering, including the prioritization of vulnerable users, and automated enforcement, provide a pathway toward reaching zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The legislature can take action by funding safety, requiring local jurisdictions to adopt the Safe Systems Approach to traffic engineering in order to compete for grants, and authorizing greater use of automated camera enforcement for red lights, speed zones, and right-hand turns.
In Washington State, transportation is the top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation investments must reduce climate pollution, not increase it.
More than half of greenhouse gas emissions in Snohomish County are from transportation, the vast majority of which is from driving personal vehicles. This is higher than the other three counties in the Central Puget Sound, which has higher percentage of GHG emissions from transportation than the rest of the state. Two recent studies show that lowering transportation emissions to a level that meets state and regional goals and does our part to keep global temperature from rising by 3.6°F will require both a near 100% conversion to electric vehicles and a dramatic decrease in vehicle miles traveled (see studies by Climate Solutions and the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy).
Past transportation decisions negatively impacted people of color, older adults, youth, disabled people, and low income individuals. Transportation projects need to redress these injustices by investing in transportation and land use patterns that enable social mobility.
The number of jobs accessible within a given distance is the top factor for the upward social mobility of an individual. Given the history of land use and transportation decisions that proactively diminished economic opportunity for people of color while giving it to White people, transportation investment decisions today must be intentional in addressing these past harms by creating complete, compact communities for people of all incomes and backgrounds.
While future growth needs to be prioritized for transit-strong communities, the older adults, people with disabilities, low income individuals, tribal members, and agricultural and resource industry workers in rural areas must still have the ability to get to school, work, shops, and medical appointments.
Align Investments to State & Regional Goals
State transportation funding should implement the state’s goals for addressing climate change, eliminating traffic fatalities, increasing equity, improving public health, and other priorities as set by state and regional goals and policies for transportation, growth management, and climate goals.
Fix It First
Before building more highway lanes, the state needs to first fix its roads and bridges.
Every year, more than 50% of WSDOT’s maintenance and preservation needs go unfunded and unaddressed. It’s a nearly $1 billion funding gap. This is unsustainable. Across the state, 3,600 lane miles of pavement are due for preservation, another 4,700 are past due, and 1,400 lane miles are in poor condition; 12 bridges need replacement, 18 more need major rehabilitation, and six are being replaced. Before building more infrastructure without a maintenance funding plan, it’s essential to first backfill the backlog of broken bridges and 10,000+ miles of roadways. (data as of 2021)
Fully Fund Transit, Walk, Bike, and ADA Infrastructure
The state should fully fund transit capital needs, ADA transition plans, and citywide bikeway and pedestrian networks to be completed within 10 years.
With federal funding decreasing for Coordinated Mobility Grants in the next biennium, the legislature will need to substantially expand state funding for volunteer driver programs, non-emergency medical transportation, nonprofit-operated demand response services, and other community mobility services.
For any new transportation funding, the legislature should preserve flexibility in expending the funds on non-highway projects, as provided by the state supreme court in Auto. United Trades Org. v. State (2012).
Cities and counties should be encouraged to package citywide and neighborhood-wide networks of walking, biking, and ADA infrastructure into single projects that can be funded in state transportation packages and in state grant programs.
To ensure consistency with state transportation, growth management, and climate goals, the state legislature move away from line-iteming projects in transportation packages and toward giving more discretion to WSDOT and PSRC to evaluate projects and allocate funding.