WSACE Annual Conference – Leavenworth, WA

The final details of the annual conference are coming together.  We’re expecting a strong turnout for the CRAB 50th year celebration at the reception at the Icicle Ridge Winery on Tuesday evening with many former CRAB and WSACE members participating.  The final conference schedule can be found here.

The reception and dinner are to be held at Icicle Ridge Winery’s Log Home Winery at 8977 North Road, Peshastin, WA.  Directions to the winery can be found here.

On behalf of President Grant Morgan, WSACE looks forward to seeing you next week in Leavenworth at the conference.

Gary

Legislature Passes 2015-17 Transportation Budget

The House and Senate agreed on funding for the 2015-17 transportation budget.  The “current law” budget is mostly a continuation of existing funding with the focus on completing already funded projects.  Both chambers passed the budget, 2ESHB 1299, at the closure of the legislature’s first special session and is now headed to the Governor for signature.

The House and Senate have not yet agreed on a new transportation package to fund additional transportation needs.  House and Senate transportation committee leaders say that talks are continuing as the legislature is called back for a second special session to resolve the state’s operating budget.

The good news for counties in the 2015-17 transportation budget is that $10,000,000 is provided for county road preservation.  The legislature previously provided the same level of funding in the 2013-15 budget with no commitment to fund in the future.  Funding for the RAP program and CAPP program are at $46 million and $31 million respectively.

The budget also includes an appropriation of county study money in Section 103 of the bill.

  • Section 103(1) provides funding to OFM to study formation of a federal fund exchange program.
  • Section 103(2) provides funding to WSAC to continue development of the county transportation dashboard, streamline reporting of financial data; expand collection of data on short span bridges and culverts; study impacts from freight and rail activity; and evaluate opportunities to improve project delivery.
  • Section 103(3) provides funding to work with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop programmatic agreements for the maintenance, preservation, rehabilitation, and replacement of water crossing structures.

The budget also provides funding to the Joint Transportation Committee to do several studies including a study to identify prominent road-rail conflicts, recommend a corridor-based prioritization process for addressing the impacts of projected increases in rail traffic, and identify areas of state public policy interest, such as the critical role of freight movement to the Washington economy and the state’s competitiveness in world trade. Local governments are required to be consulted during the study.

Please contact Gary Rowe if you have any questions.

Legislative Update – Final for Regular Session

The Legislature adjourned late last week without reaching an agreement on a transportation package as well as the state operating budget.  House and Senate transportation negotiators will start meeting this week ahead of the special session starting on Wednesday.  No word, as yet, on any progress being made.  Both the “current law” 2013-15 budget and the “new law” transportation package are yet to be resolved.

The legislature reached agreement on oil transportation safety bill and passed ESHB 1449 on Friday just before adjourning.  The compromise removed requirements for additional train crew requirements for trains over 50 cars, requires railroads to regularly notify state emergency responders as to the route and type of oil for rail transport, and requires railroads to demonstrate ability to pay for oil spills.  The bill also increases the rail transport fee from one and one-half percent to two and one-half percent, except for third class railroads.  The bill also adds requirements for development of local emergency response plans.

Several bills have been referred to the Governor:  HB 1817 extends liability immunity to local jurisdictions for wheeled all-terrain vehicles; SHB 1851 streamlines permitting for structurally deficient bridge projects; EHB 1868 allows county road funding in San Juan and Island counties to be spend on marine related activities; SB 5307 raises funding for deficit reimbursement on county ferries in Whatcom, Skagit, and Pierce counties; SB 5314 eliminates WSDOT’s requirement for stormwater fee reimbursements; and SSB 5348 allows local agencies to establish joint utilization contracts for A&E services.

A list of bills being tracked can be found here.

Please contact Gary Rowe if you would like more information about any bills.

Washington State Association of County Engineers