June 9, 2020

WSDOT proposes delaying additional Cascades service as part of budget cuts

At the request of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, many state agencies submitted options this month for cutting 15% from their annual budgets. Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar submitted the recommendations of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) on June 1.

Secretary Millar's letter specifies the principles WSDOT is using to set priorities, including:

  • Delay the addition of new assets to the system because we need to focus first on the operation, maintenance, and preservation of our existing assets and because new assets will require additional ongoing investments and staff resources to operate and to maintain in a state of good repair.
  • Look for innovative ways to generate new revenue with our existing assets.

WSDOT proposes to save $11.54 million in FY 2021 by "Delay[ing] the start date for the two additional passenger rail round trips and associated maintenance contracts until after July 2021." https://ofm.wa.gov/sites/default/files/public/budget/statebudget/savings/405WSDOT.pdf page 4.

All Aboard Washington is concerned about this potential delay. We will ask WSDOT for more details on:

  • How the $11.54 million in savings was calculated.
  • What "innovative ways to generate new revenue" WSDOT will pursue to promote passenger rail as part of the state's plans for mitigating the economic slowdown.
  • How WSDOT will conduct economic analyses to demonstrate how future east-west passenger rail services could become an essential service for moving the state’s economy and providing access to opportunity.

All Aboard Washington agrees that "operation, maintenance, and preservation of our existing assets" should be the highest priority. This is the best time for our elected representatives to re-examine how transportation should be planned and funded. Our state needs an interconnected transportation network that meets the needs of all parts of the state.