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Practical Solutions: Budget and Policy Alignment

What is budget and policy alignment?

WSDOT is working with policy makers to create a budget structure and legislative policy that allows the agency to fully maximize a Practical Solutions approach to project delivery and daily operations. First steps include identifying (click through the tabs to discover):

Spotlight on WSDOT’s FY2019-2021 budget request

Spotlight status icon Spotlight on WSDOT’s FY2019-2021 budget request
WSDOT’s budget request is one example of our Practical Solutions approach as it outlines our priorities and goals of:

In September 2018, WSDOT submitted its FY2019-2021 budget request to Governor Jay Inslee. Our Practical Solutions approach to transportation investment calls for collaborating with our partners to address congestion within available resources, making the right investments, in the right locations at the right time. It acknowledges that we are stewards of a huge transportation asset that is essentially complete. We have an obligation to the citizens we serve to bring our multimodal transportation system to a state of good repair, to make sure that it operates safely, that it moves people, goods, and services as efficiently as possible, that we manage demand for available highway capacity, and that we, at times, add capacity to the system.

Several decision packages submitted by WSDOT work together to demonstrate the type of success that is possible through multimodal, least-cost improvements in targeted areas. Preliminary planning and data analysis identified several multimodal projects that when combined, will improve performance in targeted locations. Strategies include a mix of system operations, Commute Trip Reduction and active transportation improvements that will be strongest together. These packages also request the resources needed to lay the groundwork to apply similar multimodal practical solutions on a larger scale statewide.

More about WSDOT's FY2019-2021 budget request

Why are multimodal least-cost improvements a priority?

Practical Solutions means considering least-cost strategies first. Working across disciplines and modes, in unison, lets us consider all possible solutions. When deployed together, a suite of multimodal least-cost solutions can effectively achieve desired performance. In many cases, this approach can defer or even eliminate the need for a much more expensive capital expansion project.

First, we strive to manage current assets so past and current investments in the transportation system function at optimal levels. This means not only achieving and maintaining a state of good repair but, also, managing demand to the greatest extent possible.

Second, we are identifying needs and performance targets. This involves setting expectations for our transportation system and assessing current performance to identify gaps. This information positions us to work with partners, local jurisdictions that own connecting city streets and county roads, and communities to identify strategies to achieve desired performance targets.

Highlights of Practical Solutions budget requests

A Practical Solutions approach to transportation problems involves gathering and analyzing data, and extensive planning and partnership across modes and jurisdictions, to identify least-cost strategies that make a difference. We have been able to conduct some initial planning in four major areas of the state – the I-5 Seattle vicinity and surrounding connectors; the I-5 Vancouver area; I-5 Thurston County; and Spokane. Several budget requests, called “decision packages” work together to put into place least-cost near-term interventions that can improve mobility in these networks without requiring immediate large-scale capital expansion.
These decision packages cross budget programs and modes, and leverage benefits from each other. Each proposal covers a set of immediate investments that will work together to improve these four targeted locations, while laying the groundwork for future planning and deployment across more of the state. Most of these investments provide the added benefit of significantly improving safety for the traveling public such as providing safe infrastructure for people traveling by bicycle or by foot.

  • Commute Trip Reduction: $6 million
  • The first step in managing the transportation system is reducing demand. This request identifies the CTR-based interventions that will be most effective in the near term for addressing mobility in the four identified locations, as well as strengthening CTR efforts statewide.

  • System Operations (TSMO): $5 million
  • The Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) investments identified in this package focus on the traffic operations improvements that will provide a big return at a lower cost than expanding the footprint of lane miles.

  • Active Transportation (walkable/bikeable options): $5 million
  • This request invests in the tools, human capital, and critical improvements needed to link local, regional and state facilities to provide safer, better access and mobility. It addresses immediate needs in the four focused regional locations but also makes the needed changes to contribute to communities and economies statewide.

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    Funding constraints and opportunities

    How do we measure funding constraints and opportunities?

    The agency strives to identify and verify funding constraints and opportunities initially by December 2019, then ongoing. One measure of our success will be the ability to reduce the complexity and rigidity of our existing structure.

    Under development status icon
    Under development
    Funding bubble chart image

    Source: WSDOT Budget & Financial Analysis Division

    Notes: 1 The 16 operating budget programs are: Tolling; Information Technology; Facilities; Transportation Equipment Fund; Aviation; Program Delivery Management & Support; Public Private Partnerships; Highway Maintenance; Traffic Operations; Management & Support; Planning, Data & Research; Payments to Other Agencies; Public Transportation; Ferries; Rail; Local Programs. The seven capital budget programs are: Facilities; Aviation Revitalization Loans; Improvements; Preservation; Traffic Operations; Ferries; Rail; Local Programs. 2 This includes provisos, other appropriations and a small number of budgeted but non-appropriated items. Any unanticipated receipts or future supplemental budgets would change this figure. 3 This includes provisos, other appropriations and a small number of budgeted but non-appropriated items. Any unanticipated receipts or future supplemental budgets would change this figure. The December 2018 update reflects appropriation codes only once, even if they are used in multiple subprograms. 4 This represents the number of Public Transportation projects with operating appropriation to pay for capital equipment/vehicles and capital construction projects. This figure can change over time based on approved contingency projects. 5 This represents the number of projects or line item investments in the capital budget programs.

    Each bubble in this chart represents a budget program, appropriation or legislatively specified project - a total of 1,050 - that restrict how WSDOT funds operations and project delivery programs.

    More about funding constraints and opportunities

    Why is it important to update policies, procedures, guidelines and manuals?

    An agency’s budget is a reflection of its priorities. When the budget and the priorities are not aligned, we are not as effective and efficient as we can be. This is the implementation piece of all other strategies that are part of the Practical Solutions approach – making the right investments, in the right places, at the right time, while using the right approach.

    What are we working on?

    Through the agency’s Practical Solutions approach, WSDOT has established an objective to identify and communicate the gaps between desired and expected investment levels for system maintenance, operations and expansion to achieve an integrated multimodal transportation system.

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    Key actions for better alignment

    How do we measure key actions for better alignment?

    The agency is developing a process to prioritize the allocation of available projected resources in a manner consistent with Practical Solutions.

    Prioritizing the allocation of available projected resources – check back in fall 2020. Under development status icon
    Under Development

    More about key actions for alignment

    Why is identifying key actions for alignment a priority?

    WSDOT is working to identify the key actions necessary to achieve better alignment between agency and legislative priorities by fall 2020. While the department is highly focused on delivering the 2015 $16 billion Connecting Washington transportation revenue package, an underlying structural deficit exists within our primary operating accounts. The state owns or manages a transportation system with a replacement value of approximately $117 billion, not counting land values. WSDOT needs $1.1 billion per year to maintain and preserve these assets but is projecting a preservation budget of $550 million per year - or 50 percent of the total need, resulting in a growing backlog of maintenance and preservation demands. Additionally, an accelerated investment in fish-barrier removal will be required to comply with the 2030 deadline of the federal injunction, which was affirmed in June by the U.S. Supreme Court's four-to-four deadlock opinion. These are challenges that can be solved only by working together- the department, the Governor's office, the Legislature, citizens, and partners. WSDOT believes that a Practical Solutions approach is key.

    What are we working on?

    WSDOT has established an objective to develop a process to prioritize the allocation of available project resources in a manner consistent with Practical Solutions.

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