State legislative Democrats are announcing 'Move Ahead Washington', a transportation proposal that would spend $16 billion over 16 years.

The package focuses heavily on maintaining and preserving highways, increasing public transportation options, and reducing carbon emissions.

Senate Transportation Chair Marko Liias says that although transportation bills normally go through a bipartisan process, Republicans were largely kept out of the package's formation because of the its dependence on the Climate Commitment Act.

"Unfortunately our Republican colleagues have a different vision for how to address climate action in this state. You can watch the floor debate from last session to see that we are deeply in disagreement on this point." explained Liias, "So when it came to allocating those resources we weren't starting from the same place."

Liias claims the package doesn't pass the cost on to working families because the legislation doesn't include a gas tax for Washingtonians. Instead, other states receiving Washington-refined gas will be taxed.

"This is our first draft. We invite Washingtonians from every corner of the state to send us their thoughts and let us know how we are doing," continued Liias.

Public comment will be taken prior to and during a Senate Transportation Committee hearing Thursday morning at 9:00 am.

Move Ahead Washington includes $1 billion for an I-5 Columbia River Bridge and over $2.4 billion for fish barrier removal. The legislation also provides $44 million for people 18 and under to ride the state's ferries and light rail for free.

Locally, Move Ahead Washington has very little in terms of capital projects for North Central Washington.

Most importantly, the package does not include any funding for the Confluence Parkway project. Leaders had requested $85 million from the state to add to $49 million in federal dollars.

Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz says it's still very possible that funding for the project is added during negotiations. If Confluence Parkway doesn't receive any state money, the southern portion of the project that includes underpasses on McKittrick and Miller Streets will still be built.

"What's not funded is the improvements to the riverfront trail and the bridge over the Wenatchee River along with the connection to (US 2/97/97A)," detailed Kuntz.

The transportation package did not include any money for capital projects in Chelan or Douglas Counties.

Kuntz says Confluence Parkway proponents will now switch to a "full-court press" to pressure lawmakers into giving the project the capital it needs.

Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council Executive Director Jeff Wilkens stated that he would have been surprised to see funding for Confluence Parkway in the first draft.

"That doesn't concern me at this point." said Wilkens, "I would expect because this was a first draft that this will evolve through the rest of the legislative sessions over the next few weeks."

Wilkens added that some of the $3 billion set aside for road preservation and maintenance will undoubtedly go to North Central Washington.

As for the rest of the 12th legislative district, $425,000 was set aside to build sidewalks and gutters on part of Daisy Street/SR 17 in Soap Lake. $150 million will go toward improving the Palouse River and Coulee City rail line, which in part sits in Grant County.

The 13th District has two capital projects as of this moment. Legislators set $12.5 million aside to rebuild some of the shoulder on State Route 243. I-90 from Snoqualmie pass to Easton will be widened to relieve westbound congestion that tends to build up at the end of the weekend, especially during the summer. The project will receive $156 million.

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