Q&A: Senator Curtis King on Transportation
Senator Curtis King (R-14th LD) is a distinguished member of the Senate Transport Committee. He served as committee chair from 2015 to 2017 and was the primary sponsor of the first transportation revenue package in over a decade.
The Wire returned with Senator King to discuss transportation infrastructure in Washington State. In the 2019 Infrastructure Bulletin, Washington State received a C rating. Several transports financing packages were presented the last session, including one from Senator King, but none managed to pass the Legislative Assembly.
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Aaron Kunkler: What do you think about transportation?
Senator Curtis King: We can stay here for a long time. There are two, three or four people who have worked on a new transport income packageâ¦ I know one of them is still very interested in the possibility of having a special session on transport and putting in set up a package so that we try to keep our transportation up to date. I think it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s still a possibility. The challenge we have, in my opinion, is that we have the ones on the west side of the state where all of our money has to be spent on bike paths and walking trails and transit or light rail. Because they have all the conditions and the desire to do so. And of course, they have more members in the Legislature than the east side.
So we have a hard time getting across that transit might be a big problem on the west side, but it’s hard for us on this side to get around and do everything we do here. Especially in the agricultural field, it is difficult for agricultural workers. They get on that bus and go to a particular farm and work and you never know for sure how long you are going to work. And so the public transportation doesn’t work as well as on the west side, but they tend to ignore it.
â¦The [Department of Transportation] was telling us that they started letting the roads deteriorate if it was the national highway and the speed limit is 45 miles an hour or less, they say they are not going to fix it. They’re just going to let the potholes get bigger and the bridge decks collapse because there just isn’t the money to maintain them. So we have these challenges, and obviously somehow we have to meet them. Now, normally you would say, âWell, you solve this problem by increasing the gasoline tax. And that’s a possibility, but on that point, the legislature and I would say the Democrats, have passed two bills, one called cap and trade and the other, the standards for low carbon fuels. , and most of them will have a very negative impact on the price of gas. I can imagine that by doing most of these we’re going to be at $ 5 a gallon or more.
AK: What transport policies would you like to see?
CK: Well I think we have to maintain our roads a lot better than we are, and again it takes money. But I will stress that part of our challenge has been this. Environmentalists are upset because the gasoline tax is protected by the 18th Amendment, which says it can only be used for roads, bridges and highways. They don’t like it. So I would say there are those in DOT who don’t like it. They got around that. The best example I can give you is the new 520 bridge over Lake Washington. So that was built, and there is a 14 foot wide lane that is strictly for bikes and people all along the bridge. It’s one only for bikes, only for people who walk, and there is great ease of transportation on either side of the lakeâ¦ So when 520 was built, it was built mainly because it’s a highway. , it is a bridge. So, do you know who paid for the 14 foot bicycle and pedestrian lane? The gas money paid for it.
â¦ My point is, if we’re going to build a new highway, if we’re going to do something and there’s a sidewalk, or if there’s some sort of transit exit or something with transit, or if there is a footpath, everything that should come out of the multimodal [funding]. The gasoline tax should only pay for the road or the bridge.
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