Liias votes to approve transportation budget

House lawmakers Friday approved an $8.9 billion transportation budget that would keep projects moving forward and generate more than 43,000 jobs.

The two-year proposal, House Bill 1175, includes almost $12.5 million in funding for local projects. Rep. Marko Liias, vice chair of the Transportation Committee, sees the budget as a strength for the state as it grows out of the recession.

“These investments will keep kids in our community safe, restore bus service for seniors and the disabled, and put tens of thousands of people back to work across the state,” said Liias.

The budget maintains the momentum of existing projects across Washington, including the 2003 Nickel and 2005 Transportation Partnership Program packages, of which nearly 300 projects are already completed. About $3.9 billion is provided to continue remaining projects in the next biennium.

Liias was especially pleased to see $1.7 million in support in the budget for Sunday Community Transit service.

“Consistent transit service, including Sundays, protects everyone in our community as they need to move from home to work, or to appointments,” Liias said. “In difficult times, we are forced to cut back, but this support will make our communities stronger with good transit.”

Among projects important to Snohomish County are $20.5 million to improve safety on U.S. Highway 2 at the Bickford Avenue, and $655,000 for three Safe Routes to School projects in Lynwood and Mountlake Terrace.

“With the funding for Highway 2, we’re continuing to address serious safety issues for our community,” Liias said. “We can’t prevent every accident, but we can seek to invest in areas that will reduce tragedies and keep people alive.”

Taking into account the diversity of transportation preferences across the state, the budget makes significant multi-modal investments, including $402 million for passenger rail, $237 for ferry terminals and vessels, $88 million for urban and rural transit, $44 million for freight rail and $11 million for the Safe Routes to School and bicycle-pedestrian safety programs.

For more information, the proposed budget is available here.

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