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Investing in roads

Investing based on how people actually travel

Roads and freeways carry the large majority of trips taken by travelers in the Puget Sound Region, whether in cars, buses, rideshares or freight vehicles. The ETA recommends investing resources based on how people actually travel, not to influence people or change travel behavior.

Congestion is the problem

Traffic congestion continues to increase on city streets, arterials and highways. Policy choices, not the "We can't build our way out of it" mantra, are to blame. For example, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) estimates that between 2010 and 2040, transit agencies in the four-county region will spend $103.5 billion, 53 percent of all transportation spending. Just $32.8 billion will be spent on state highways. 

This is staggering, as the PSRC estimates that transit's share of trips will only grow from 5.1 percent of trips today to 6.3 percent in 2040. In fact, transit is only expected to serve 10 percent of regional trip growth, with cars and trucks serving 59 percent of growth. In other words, we are spending billions on things like light rail while traffic delay increases and our highways continue to crumble.

Protecting the 18th Amendment


The 18th Amendment to the Washington State Constitution protects gas taxes, fees and other state revenue intended to be used for highway purposes to be used exclusively for highway purposes. The Amendment was passed with more than 69 percent of  voters affirming the protection for better roads.

The Washington State Good Roads Association argued for the measure, famously stating:

"Between 1933 and 1943 in this state, in excess of $10,000,000 of your gas tax money was diverted away from street and highway improvement and maintenance for other uses. Several hundred miles of good, paved, safe highway would have been built to save money in motor vehicle operation had this special motor tax money been used as it was intended. These were highways and streets we paid for but didn't get"

The ETA strongly believes that traditional and new transportation taxes and fees on automobiles and trucks should remain and be dedicated to street and highway uses and be protected under the 18th Amendment to the Washington State Constitution.

You can read more about the 18th Amendment, along with case law, here.

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