Photography lesson

Let Federal Infrastructure Funds Serve as a Lesson to the Legislature and Governor Inslee

President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law this week, will bring much-needed attention and funding to everything from roads and bridges to broadband and salmon salvage. Passed with bipartisan support, the $1.2 trillion spending measure is a critical investment in America’s future.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington lawmakers need to see this as an example to follow, not just another excuse to keep blaming the state for an array of transportation infrastructure on the road.

While the legislature is idling, praise from Congress is due. The money coming to Washington will be transformational, with the state set to receive nearly $8.6 billion in dedicated funds and access billions more through additional grants. This includes about $4.7 billion for highway funding and $605 million for bridge replacement and repair.

The state spends less than half of the required $2 billion annually on maintenance, according to the Washington Department of Transportation. There are 416 bridges and more than 5,400 miles of highway classified as being in “poor” condition.

Access to $1 billion from the US Department of Transportation for a new program created to remove, replace or restore culverts will also be vital. The funds will help mitigate the more than $3 billion cost of the court-mandated solution to hundreds of fish passages under highways by 2030.

Other essential and long-delayed projects, such as the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River and the replacement of US Highway 2 trestles near Everett, are set to get a boost through a program of $5 billion megaproject grants included in the bill.

The additional funding includes nearly $2 billion for public transit, $882 million for improved drinking water and $384.7 million in airport infrastructure grants, including $228 for the airport. International Sea-Tac. Washington will also receive $71 million to expand its electric vehicle charging network and $100 million for broadband service in rural and underserved communities.

After Biden signed the bill, fulfilling one of his campaign promises, more than one headline mentioned the Trump administration’s “infrastructure week.” The long-running joke referred to a much-hyped, but never materialized, infrastructure proposal first mentioned in 2017. anything” at Olympia.

The Legislature once again failed to produce a new transportation revenue package last session, and Governor Inslee killed any incentive to act when he vetoed provisions of the climate legislation. intended to force the question. Lawmakers are avoiding some tough choices that will likely raise taxes. It won’t be any easier in 2022, with a shorter session and election year concerns.

Certainly, money from the federal government will have a significant impact on Washington and help fill the gaps, but that is no substitute for meeting the state’s long-term needs.

Congress has done its job; state legislators must do theirs.