Could I-976 impact WA’s big transportation projects?


Washington residents will vote on I-976 on Tuesday

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Washington residents will vote on Tuesday whether to lower their vehicle licensing fee back to $30, but people opposed to Initiative 976 said it may affect funding for the big transportation projects like the Interstate-5 bridge replacement.

I-976 would also limit authority to impose car taxes and fees. One of the people behind the initiative is activist Tim Eyman. If successful, this would be the third time Eyman rolled back car tabs to $30. Voters passed 2 previous $30 tabs initiatives: one in 1999 and one in 2002.

“We the people keep saying that we want to cap how much we pay to register our vehicle in the state of Washington, but the politicians on the state and local level took it away from us,” said Eyman.

However, State Representative Monica Stonier from Vancouver is against it and said it could affect the way they maintain roads, bridges, and buses.

The Interstate 5 bridge connects Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington. November 1, 2019 (KOIN)

“While we may be sensitive to gimmicks like a $30 fee, I think what people really expect is that they will be able to travel on roads to get to work,” said Stonier.

One concern that’s finally getting some momentum is the I-5 bridge project.

Both Oregon and Washington recently came together to bring plans for a new I-5 bridge back to life. Those opposed to lower car tab fees in the initiative said it could make replacing the bridge more difficult to pay for.

“So a delay in that work is not only disruptive financially in the transportation budget, and just the conversations that people are working on to get going,” said Stonier.

But Eyman argued that it’s the gas tax, which has been raised several times through recent years, that pays for roads and bridges.

“There’s a $3.5 billion tax surplus—that’s more than enough money to be able to back fill any government programs,” said Eyman.

Clark County Counselor John Blom said this initiative would cut transportation money.

“If this were to pass, it would cut about $12 billion—billion with a ‘b’—out of state transportation funds and we can’t keep up the level of roads the way people expect without that funding,” said Blom.

“This is your chance to bring it right back and say to politicians, if you are going to take more of my money, ask permission and just don’t take it,” said Eyman.

Regardless if I-976 passes, plans for the new I-5 bridge have also called for tolls on cars to pay for the $3-6 billion project.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

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