WSDOT confirms gas tax - not car tabs - fund Spokane's now halted North-South Freeway

By MARIYA FROST  | 
Dec 17, 2019
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Last week, the Spokesman Review ran our op-ed highlighting how the North-South Freeway project, put on pause by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) at the direction of the Governor, is in fact fully funded by gas tax money in the Connecting Washington transportation package passed in 2015.  

The article highlighted that, “While it’s true that the Connecting Washington package included other increases in taxes and fees, WSDOT confirms that the North-South Freeway is funded solely by the gas tax increase.”

Some lawmakers, however, have questioned this fact. Senator Andy Billig (D-Spokane) claimed that the “Connecting Washington Account receives funds from the Multimodal Transportation Account therefore the [North Spokane Corridor] is funded, in part, by multimodal funds which have been cut by I-976. None of that changes that we are going to fight to preserve funding for the NSC but the facts are the facts.” Representative Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane) agreed and added, “our region will work hard to protect funding for the NSC but as was said already facts are facts.”

WSDOT confirmed that the project was fully funded by gas tax revenue. This was communicated back to Spokane-area lawmakers. 

You can read our response to lawmakers, along with the emails with WSDOT, below. We hope this issue will call attention to other gas tax-funded projects around the state that are being deferred for political reasons.

Below is the email I received today from WSDOT, confirming that the North South Freeway is, in fact, funded by gas tax dollars and not car tab or other multimodal revenue that is impacted by Initiative 976.

As stated in the Spokesman Review op-ed, regardless of how you feel about I-976, why should regionally significant gas tax-funded projects be held hostage while smaller car-tab funded projects are made exempt?

The deferred North-South Freeway projects are fully funded by gas tax revenue in the Connecting Washington Transportation package, so there should be no reason for the state to halt construction or push lawmakers into a “Hunger Games” style fight for projects whose funding is not impacted by I-976.