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Washington's Transportation Budget for 2011-13 Biennium Overview (Based on Legislative Budget, 2011 March Revenue Forecast)

Washington’s Transportation Budget (ESHB 1175) provides $7.0 billion in new expenditure authority to Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for the 2011-13 biennium. Much of that funding comes from the 2003 Nickel and 2005 Transportation Partnership Account. Since the inception of these revenue packages, more than $15.5 billion has been made available for highway construction and transportation infrastructure improvement projects. These investments will peak during the 2011-13 biennium, with a majority of the projects being completed by the end of the 2011-13 biennium.

Highlights of the 2011-13 biennium transportation budget follow, including a summary of expenditures, as well as charts detailing available transportation funds by fund source.


The 2011-13 transportation budget maintains forward momentum on mega projects and projects of regional significance, such as:

  • Tacoma I-5 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) project
  • State Route (SR) 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement
  • SR 520 Bridge Replacement
  • I-90/Snoqualmie Pass
  • 1-405 Corridor Projects
  • SR 395 North Spokane Corridor
  • I-5/Columbia River Crossing Project

The budget makes the maintenance of our existing transportation systems a priority by providing funds for addressing the maintenance backlog and improving levels of service. In addition, the budget provides $10.2 million from the Motor Vehicle Account for WSDOT’s implementation of the 2009 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Stormwater permit, increasing the number of regulated state highway centerline miles by 40 percent from 1,140 miles to 1,600 miles.


The budget provides funding for toll operations on SR 520, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and SR 167 High Occupancy Toll Lane pilot project. Funding was also provided for the cost to administer the civil penalty process, which is expected to be recouped through civil penalty revenues.


Current levels of service are maintained in the Washington State Ferries system in part to assumed savings from changes in marine labor costs, reduced administrative activities, and continued fund transfers from non-ferry accounts. Ferry fare rate increases are authorized up to the amount needed to generate the revenue required by the budget.

The Washington State Ferries Division will take delivery of the MV Kennewick, final vessel from the construction of three new 64-car ferries started in the 2009-11 biennium. 

The 2011 Legislature via 2ESSB 5742 directed the Transportation Commission to impose a $0.25 vessel replacement surcharge on every ferry fare to support the construction of a 144-car ferry.

Rail and Public Transportation

The budget maintains and provides for continued Amtrak state-supported passenger rail service operations. WSDOT will continue to implement capital projects related to the federal higher speed rail grants that have been awarded. Capital projects to improve track quality and reliability will add additional round trips between Seattle and Portland, reduce delays, and increase on-time performance of the state-sponsored Amtrak Cascades service.

The Regional Mobility Grant Program will continue to provide support for local efforts to improve transit, and reach not-served or under-served areas of the state.

Program Savings and Efficiencies

WSDOT administrative and overhead costs are reduced by $24 million and 57 FTEs. These reductions are in addition to administrative reductions and efficiencies totaling more than $27 million and 64 FTEs during the 2009-11 biennium. 

WSDOT anticipates reductions in its workforce following the peak of construction activity from the 2003 and 2005 revenue packages.

Compensation changes include a temporary three percent reduction in salaries, as well as pension system changes, saving WSDOT $21.5 million in operating programs. In addition, the budget includes $20 million in savings to ferries operations for marine union employees related to renegotiated labor agreements.