Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 Comes at a High Cost
This essentially stops resources going to state, regional and local infrastructure projects, crippling our ability to fix dangerous highways, retrofit bridges and overpasses, fund transit, expand light rail, maintain ferries, build voter-approved projects, and improve the freight corridors that are the lifeblood of our economy.
I-976 also specifically targets funds that pay for special services for senior citizens, veterans, children and people with disabilities. Other services who depend on transportation funding, such as the Washington State Patrol, would also see cuts.
Even local projects, approved by local voters, would be hit. Local communities use Transportation Benefit Districts (TBD) to pay for road construction, maintenance and local transit service. I-976 would eliminate $60 million in TBD funding for 61 cities as diverse as Zillah, Wenatchee, Mercer Island, Everett, Buckley and Mabton.
More Congestion. Not Fair. Too Costly.
More detail about the transportation projects threatened by I-976.
I-976 repeals critical transportation funding, essentially eliminating our ability to fix dangerous highways, retrofit bridges and overpasses, fund transit, expand light rail, maintain ferries, build voter-approved projects, improve freight corridors, and invest in the Washington State Patrol. It hurts projects from Spokane to Seattle, Bellingham to Vancouver and all points in between. At risk are:
- State funding for critical transportation projects like I-405, SR 520, North/South freeway in Spokane, SR 167/509 completion and I-90/Snoqualmie Pass
- Voter-approved local transit and light rail expansion
- Highway safety projects including retrofitting bridges and overpasses and funding for the State Patrol
- Ferry improvements
- Improved Amtrak service, from Canada to Oregon
- Freight mobility projects that make it easier for our exports and imports to get to port
- $60 million in funding every year is at risk to pay for road construction, maintenance and local transit service in 62 cities. These cities are as diverse as Zillah, Wenatchee, Mercer Island, Everett, Buckley and Mabton, and are all solving local problems with local funds.
Vulnerable neighbors are impacted most by I-976.Not only does I-976 threaten funds tobuild and maintain roads and transit options that people depend on to get to work ands school, but it specifically targets funds that pay for special services for senior citizens, veterans, children and people with disabilities.
By repealing critical transportation funding, I-976 puts major transportation projects across the state at risk and makes it harder for local communities to solve their own transportation problems.
I-976 threatens more than $25 billion in road, rail and public transportation investments that connect millions of people to jobs, education, health care, and each other every year.
The state did an analysis of I-976 when it was being considered by the Legislature in the 2019 session. Here are some supporting documents, detailing the projected project impact.
Frequently Asked Questions
I-976, sponsored by Tim Eyman, is broadly written to dramatically cut our state and local transportation funds. This initiative majorly threatens road infrastructure and transit service from Spokane to Seattle, Bellingham to Vancouver and all points in between.
By repealing critical transportation funding, I-976 cripples our ability to fix dangerous highways, retrofit bridges and overpasses, fund transit, expand light rail, maintain ferries, build voter-approved projects, improve freight corridors, and invest in the Washington State Patrol.
Over $12 billion worth of projects all over the state would be at risk if I-976 passes.
Will this impact transportation in all areas of the state?
Yes. Road, rail and transit projects in every county in Washington are at risk. All areas of our state depend on transportation infrastructure, from the farmers who move fresh food to buyers around the world, to every store in the entire state.
I-976 would put a $4 billion hole in the State’s transportation budget, including projects with safety components, such as bridge repair.
I-976 also blocks funding for Transportation Benefit Districts (TBD). TBDs are used to pay for local road construction, maintenance and local transit service. Right now, 61 cities as diverse as Zillah, Wapato, Bremerton, Spokane, Seattle and Orting all use TBDs to raise local funds to solve local problems (full list here). If I-976 passes, those projects and services would be stopped, and local jurisdictions would lose the ability to raise funds in this way.
What about projects that voters have already approved?
Transportation funding that has been voter approved is at risk. I-976 repeals the taxing authority given to local cities so voter approved measures will be stopped. This includes projects that are mid-way through construction—as the revenue disappears, construction becomes impossible and projects are left unfinished.
Haven’t we already voted on this?
Yes. Many years ago, voters passed a measure supporting $30 car tabs by the state and the Legislature took action. In fact, today car tabs are still $30 at the state level. In some areas, car tabs are higher to support voter-approved projects, such as transit expansion or major repairs.
I-976 takes away voters’ ability to support local transportation projects, repeals funding for projects and services already underway, and rescinds targeted transportation fees (snowmobile fees, weight fees, electric vehicle fees) that provide critical financing for infrastructure projects.
Will I-976 impact road safety projects?
Yes! I-976 impacts critical funding for road safety projects across the state. According to infrastructure experts, Washington has more than 160 bridges and overpasses that are in poor condition. I-976 jeopardizes public safety by eliminating funding for projects to fix bridges, overpasses and tunnels that do not meet earthquake safety standards.
Is it road projects or transit projects at risk?
Both! I-976 is so broadly written that it will impact transit service, major road projects, road maintenance, bridge repair, ferry service and freight mobility in communities large and small.
Who does I-976 impact most?
I-976 hurts vulnerable populations across the state by cutting transit support and cutting transportation options for low income-workers.
- Threatens cuts to programs that directly support the transportation needs of veterans, children, senior citizens and people with disabilities;
- Makes big cuts in safe and reliable public transportation, which is essential for low-income workers and families who can’t take on the cost of car ownership, gas, repair, and parking and who may need to travel far to work;
- Defunds dozens of road-repair projects across the state, leading to poorly maintained roads, more car damage and more car repairs—all of which definitely hurts low-income residents.
Isn’t this just about Sound Transit?
No. I-976 strips away more than $25 billion in funding for transportation at the state, local and regional level, including more than $20 billion at risk for voter-approved Sound Transit projects and services. I-976 repeals a variety of state fees as well as local Transportation Benefit District authority impacting road and transit projects across the State.
All areas of our state depend on transportation infrastructure, from the farmers who move fresh food to buyers around the world, to every store in the entire state.
By effectively de-funding transportation funding for roads, rail and transit projects, I-976 virtually guarantees we’ll all spend more time commuting and more money fixing broken cars, while also watching our economy weaken.