Does I-976 affect DOT’s proposed roundabout for SR 104?

Posted 11/13/19

The passage of anti-tax activist Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976, which will limit the annual license fees for vehicles at $30, will not have an effect on the proposal to build a roundabout at the state Route 104/Paradise Bay/Shine Road intersection.

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Does I-976 affect DOT’s proposed roundabout for SR 104?

Posted

The passage of anti-tax activist Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976, which will limit the annual license fees for vehicles at $30, will not have an effect on the proposal to build a roundabout at the state Route 104/Paradise Bay/Shine Road intersection.

On Nov. 6, when results made it clear that voters had approved the initiative, Governor Jay Inslee directed Washington State Department of Transportation to postpone projects not yet underway.

“I have also asked other state agencies that receive transportation funding, including the Washington State Patrol and Department of Licensing, to defer non-essential spending as we review impacts,” Inslee said in a released statement. “I will work with legislators, agency leadership and stakeholders on how best to respond to the impacts of this initiative. I remain committed to finding solutions to meet Washington’s growing and urgent transportation needs.”

But this does not include the roundabout project, said Tina Werner, the communications director for the WSDOT Olympic Region, because it is considered a “safety-related project.”

“It is still too soon to say how the initiative’s effects will be felt by the traveling public served by the Washington State Department of Transportation,” Werner wrote in an email response to questions from The Leader. “But initially, we believe it to impact specifically capital expansion or capacity improvement projects, not fish passage, preservation or safety-related projects.”

The implementation of I-976 will limit annual license fees for vehicles weighing under 10,000 pounds to $30, except voter-approved charges; base vehicle taxes on the Kelley Blue Book value rather than 85% of the manufacturer’s base suggested retail price; and repeal authorization for certain regional transit authorities, such as Sound Transit, to impose motor vehicle excise taxes.

The loss to transportation accounts used by WSDOT during the 2-19-2021 biennium is estimated to be $451 million out of a $6.7 billion biennial budget, or about 7%, assuming an implementation date of Dec. 5, 2019, according to Werner.

For 2021–23, the effect for the full biennium is estimated at $645 million, and for 2023–25 the revenue loss is estimated at $726 million.

“This is a significant loss to specific programs supported by our agency budget,” she wrote. “The initiative reduces or eliminates specific revenue sources, so the effect on specific department programs or projects will not be uniform.”

WSDOT won’t know about specific impacts until the Legislature takes action to amend their budget and the governor signs that budget into law.

“In response to the passage of I-976, Gov. Inslee gave direction to the department to postpone projects not yet underway,” Werner wrote. “Delaying construction for these projects gives the governor and Legislature time to determine how to implement the initiative as they work toward an amended budget next session. WSDOT is working to determine specific projects affected by this directive.”

If the project qualifies as a “fish passage, preservation or specific safety-related” project, then WSDOT will continue to move forward.

“Safety work is critical to the safe operation of our multimodal transportation system,” Werner wrote.

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Justin Hale

Typical bureaucratic BS. We're all for safety and if the intersection at the west end of the HCB needs attention there are much cheaper and effective ways to address that. A dedicated, programed traffic light would cost millions less than a stupid roundabout.

Wednesday, November 13