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King County Council wants special session to address transportation funding
Facing a crisis that has the potential to cripple transportation throughout King County, the Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously adopted a motion urging Gov. Jay Inslee to call a special session of the Washington State Legislature to address statewide, local and regional transportation needs.
“We face a transportation crisis in King County, with devastating cuts to transit service looming and our 1,500 mile county road system losing a third of its budget,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, prime sponsor of the motion and the chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. “The state legislature holds the power to solve this crisis by providing local revenue options, but we cannot wait—the time for them to act is now.”
“King County is one of a number of counties in this state that is preparing—or has made—devastating reductions to public transit and the maintenance of our roads,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “The County Council is asking for the Legislature to give our government the tools we need to help meet the transportation needs of our region.”
“People throughout King County and Washington State depend upon roads and public transit to get to work and school, and to access essential services,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, Vice Chair of the County Council. “Passing a transportation package is essential to our local and state economies, and I urge legislators in Olympia to come together around this important issue.”
“It is essential that the legislature call a special session and pass a transportation package that will meet our urgent need for stable and on-going transportation funding,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. This package must have funding tools, including local options that will give voters an opportunity to choose the level of service they are willing to support.”
The last session of the state Legislature adjourned without taking action on a statewide transportation plan. Currently, members of the Legislature are hearing public testimony at a series of public meetings to discuss transportation priorities with the intention of crafting legislation for the 2014 session of the Legislature.
The motion adopted by the Council states that with a County Roads Services Division working with smaller staffs that are straining to keep up with the needed maintenance on county roads, and a Transit Division that is preparing to reduce Metro Transit bus service by 600,000 hours starting in 2014, King County does not have time to wait.
To keep our economic recovery on the right track, we need to ensure the mobility of our region’s workforce and timely movement of goods and products,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “In King County, our residents are preparing to bear the impacts of reduced roads and transit funding unless the Legislature provides us with new options.”
“The health of our region is dependent on the health of our transportation infrastructure. King County has found efficiencies in Metro’s operations, and we have made drastic cuts to our Roads division. The Legislature must step up and help us keep our region moving,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott.
“I am proud to be part of this broad coalition of labor, businesses, cities, and bipartisan leaders advocating for a balanced statewide transportation plan to address the needs of our roads and transit infrastructure,” said Rod Dembowski, chair of the County Council’s Regional Transit Committee. “The Washington State Legislature must give local communities the tools we need to invest in transit and roads, to ensure that our economy can continue to prosper.”
The motion states that King County has worked with the city of Seattle and the Sound Cities Association to craft a local transportation funding approach to help maintain transit service and provide funding for county road maintenance. Instead of waiting until the start of the next session—when the County will have already begun work on reducing transit service—the Council is calling on the Governor and Legislature to act on legislation that would include new local transportation funding options.