Inslee: No bridge in transportation deal
OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says he still wants to call a special session of the Legislature to pass a transportation revenue package this November, but a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River won’t be part of the deal. Inslee has championed the Columbia River Crossing but said Tuesday he won’t try to include the bridge in a tax plan to fund statewide road improvements, and would be content having Oregon take the lead on replacing the connection between Vancouver and Portland.
Legislative leaders will meet Oct. 29 to see if they can agree on a transportation plan, Inslee said. The governor said he will only call lawmakers back to Olympia in November if he is confident a deal is at hand.
Also Tuesday, a helicopter tour gave Inslee an aerial view of one of the state’s biggest traffic choke points — the area surrounding Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Military brass told Inslee what the base is doing to relieve gridlock, including building a new gate on the section of the base north of Interstate 5 and a road and bridge that will connect the Air Force and Army sections of the base.
Inslee said the federally funded base improvements gave him “a good argument” to pitch to state lawmakers for why they should pass a package of taxes for transportation work, including widening of I-5 alongside the base.
“You’re being a good partner. Now we need the state to step up to the plate as well, and I hope that legislators do that this November,” Inslee told Lewis-McChord base commander Col. Charles Hodges.
The Democrat-controlled state House in June approved a 101/2-cent gas tax increase that along with various fees would have raised more than $9 billion over a dozen years, including $175 million slated for the Lewis-McChord area and $1.4 billion for expansions of state Route 167 to the Port of Tacoma and of state Route 509 near Sea-Tac International Airport.