• Report blasts Washington's roads, bridges

    By: John Knicely


    SEATTLE - You don’t have to go far to find evidence of a new report that blasts the condition of Washington roads and bridges.  It was released Tuesday in the midst of a  two-year stalemate in the Washington Legislature over a $10 billion-plus transportation package.

    Washington D.C. based non-profit group TRIP released the report which shows 45 percent of major Seattle roads are either in poor or mediocre condition.  It also shows 5 percent of Washington bridges are structurally deficient and 21 percent of bridges don’t meet current design standards.  The report is based on federal and state data and calls for a significant increase in funding for roads and bridges.  TRIP is funded by insurance companies, construction companies, labor unions and distributors and suppliers.

    “The roads aren't being maintained,” said Seattle resident Tom Schellhase.

    The report shows driving on deficient roads cost each Seattle driver $1,845 per year, and that's broken down in a few ways. The first is congestion. It shows Seattle drivers waste $1,050 stuck in traffic in wasted time and gas money.  The second big factor is vehicle operating costs or wear and tear on your vehicle, which accounts for $625.  And the report determined an extra $170 based on the cost of traffic crashes in which road condition was a contributing factor.

    Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant says it’s impacting business too.

    “I do know if we have another year or two without repairing our roads there will be an economic price,” said Bryant.  “We'll see it in reduced competitiveness. We might see it in companies moving to B.C. where they're willing to build the overpasses and the underpasses.”

    Paying for transportation is the big question mark right now.  The state legislature is in a two-year stalemate over how to pay for a $10 billion-plus transportation package.  The tax you pay on gas figures into the funding.

    “I also think you'll have to give voters the assurance that any increase in the gas tax will be spent well,” said Bryant.  “And that's why I think reforms need to be made on how we collect and spend the money we are getting from the gas tax.”

     The legislative session ends Thursday with no transportation deal in sight.

     You can read the full TRIP report here: http://tripnet.org/docs/WA_Transportation_By_The_Numbers_TRIP_Report_March_2014.pdf

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