Kilmer votes against transportation plan

The Washington state Legislature adjourned on Sunday evening after a 105-day session and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) said he is pleased with what was accomplished on behalf of the 26th District.

However, he said he acknowledges that there is still a lot of work to be done, especially regarding the district’s transportation projects.

The House passed a transportation budget Sunday which will raise gas taxes by 9.5 cents per gallon. Kilmer voted against it.

“I share the concerns ... about our high gas prices,” Kilmer said. “I cannot stomach any gas tax increase unless the proposal provides a fair deal for the area I represent.”

According to Kilmer, the district has the only “mega-project” in the state funded almost entirely by tolls.

“It’s just not right that we will pay for the Narrows Bridge and will also be asked to pay additional taxes to pay for mega-projects in other areas,” Kilmer said. “I don’t begrudge the need to fix the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the 520 bridge. Both are an earthquake away from collapse. Should either structure fail, there would be dramatic repercussions for the economy of our entire state.

“While the Narrows Bridge is almost entirely toll-funded, tolls will likely cover less than one-third of the cost of the 520 Bridge and even less of the Alaskan Way Viaduct,” Kilmer said. “I couldn’t support that.”

The Legislature passed HB-1864, which will ensure stronger representation for those most affected by the Narrows Bridge on the citizen committee that will advise on future toll collections.

However, Kilmer’s bill to exempt the Narrows Bridge project from the sales tax on construction, saving future bridge users nearly $50 million in tolls did not make it out of the House.

“These are steps in the right “I will continue working for a consistent, fair approach to the use of tolls on our state roads,” Kilmer said. “As the saying goes, ‘If it’s just us, it’s not justice.’ ”

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