Opinion

Clibborn’s transportation committee goals: Statement by Judy Clibborn on her appointment to Chair of the House Transportation Committee

I am truly honored to be chosen by my colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus to chair the Transportation Committee.

I believe I was chosen for this role in the legislature because I have always placed cooperation and compromise above party affiliation and other superficial labels. We won’t succeed if we’re divided along either party lines or regional biases. Throughout my career in both local and state government, I’ve been successful at brokering deals between opposing stakeholders and breaking through long-standing rivalries. I’ll bring that same attitude to the Transportation Committee where we’ll focus on progress, not partisanship.

Under the bold leadership of the former Chair, Ed Murray, the state began to address a lack of resources that had led to an enormous backlog of needed improvements to our state’s roads and highways. The voters of the state also recognized the importance of maintaining a safe and efficient system and approved the legislature’s plan to raise more revenue to meet those needs.

Those actions put us on the right path towards a brighter future. Despite those great gains, however, we still face many challenges. As our driving trends change, as our population grows, as our economy demands, we must continue our investments and work together to meet those challenges. As Chair, my priorities will be: finding a way to fund the mega-projects in our state; developing a comprehensive transportation vision for our state, and easing the congestion to optimize our freight mobility.

Funding the mega-projects

As you know, there are major corridors in our state that have exceeded their intended life spans and are becoming threats to public safety. Others are stretched beyond their capacity to effectively move our commuters and our products. We simply cannot endanger lives or allow our economy to crumble in the event of a catastrophic collapse of one of these structures. We must make funding the mega-projects our number one priority.

Developing a transportation vision for our state

To achieve this, we must begin by envisioning the seamless system of transportation we want from East to West, North to South. I will work with my counterpart in the Senate, Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, as well as Governor Gregoire, to project a comprehensive plan for our state. There are many questions to address: What kind of governance do we need or want? Can we balance the needs of urban and rural? Can we reduce congestion with more public transportation? What plans for those so-called mega-projects would best serve our people and businesses? Can our ferries service Puget Sound more effectively? We’ll be asking those questions and more as we proceed this upcoming session to build our vision of the future for Washington.

Optimizing our Freight Mobility

We must also recognize the importance of "clear shipping lanes," or Freight Mobility, to maintain our productivity. Our economy depends on global trade at a level far greater than nearly any other state. With international competitors such as Boeing and Microsoft, as well as prominent agricultural producers contributing greatly to our success, we simply cannot allow jobs and fortunes to depend on a fragmented and crumbling transportation system.

I’m very excited to get to work. Discussions are already underway, and we’ve wasted no time getting back to the business of the state. I plan to continue along the path of progress we’ve made in recent years and once again thank my colleagues for this opportunity. Together we can build a 21st Century transportation system that will meet tomorrow’s needs.

The House Transportation Committee considers the transportation budget, revenue sources for transportation funding, and issues relating to transportation policy and transportation agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Washington State Patrol. Rep. Clibborn represents the 41st District in the Washington state Legislature. She can be reached at 360.786.7926, or by E-mail at Clibborn.Judy@leg.wa.gov

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