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Thurston County, Washington

The content on the Thurston County website is currently provided in English. We are providing the “Translation” for approximately 10 languages. The goal of the translation is to provide visitors with limited English proficiency to access information on the website in other languages. The translations do not translate all types of documents, and it may not give you an exact translation all the time. The translations are made through an automated process, which may not result in accurate or precise translations, particularly of technical and legal terminology.

Public Works

Thurston County's Transportation System

Thurston County’s transportation system consists of over 1,026 miles of roadway, 150 bridges, 107 miles of sidewalks, 56 miles of trails, over 17,000 traffic control signs, and more than 1,000 street lights, along with a stormwater drainage and retention system. The system is the lifeblood of the local economy, connecting Thurston County’s 300,000+ residents to jobs, services, and other opportunities inside and outside the county.

Public Works

Public Works operates and maintains county roadways and traffic control system devices. Roadway maintenance includes asphalt repairs, roadside mowing to improve line-of-sight for drivers, and drainage system improvements to prevent flooding. Traffic control system maintenance includes installing or fixing traffic signs, street lights, pedestrian traffic beacons,  and traffic signals. To ensure safety and improved traffic conditions, Public Works also performs traffic studies and planning, revises speed limits as necessary, and improves the overall transportation system.

Transportation Benefit District Background

Washington State law allows cities and counties to create a Transportation Benefit District (TBD) that collects certain fees and taxes to help implement transportation projects within its boundaries. This legislation protects the revenue raised by the TBD by not allowing it to be used on other county programs. For more information about Washington State TBD Legislation, click here.

In 2014, Thurston County created a TBD covering the county's unincorporated areas. It does not include any incorporated cities or towns, but it does include the urban growth areas just outside the city limits of the cities and towns.

The goal is to invest revenue raised by the TBD to improve Thurston County’s transportation network by making roads safer, increasing our investment in preservation, and updating our technology.


A crew conducting road paving operations
System Preservation

Poor road conditions are estimated to cost each Washington driver $656 worth of vehicle wear and tear every year*. We can keep roads in good shape by performing regular maintenance and preservation activities. TBD revenue can help fund roadway maintenance that reduces vehicle wear and tear costs for drivers, but also offers substantial cost savings for taxpayers. Minor roadway repairs can save 90% or more per mile compared to the cost of major reconstruction.
*Source: 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, American Society of Civil Engineers

Example Projects

  • Pavement overlays
  • Surface restoration
  • Infrastructure rehabilitation

Source: Fehr & Peers

Road crew controlling traffic with flaggers
Roadway Safety

Traffic collisions are the 4th leading cause of death for Thurston County residents – between 2015 and 2019, there were 141 fatal and serious injury collisions in Thurston County*. Washington State has adopted Target Zero — a goal to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington's roadways to zero by the year 2030. Funds from the TBD will help Thurston County achieve Target Zero.

*Source: Washington State Department of Transportation

Example Projects

  • Providing or replacing rumble strips (alerts drivers)
  • Installing high friction surfacing at critical locations (allows cars to stop quickly to avoid hazards)
  • Implement projects identified in the County-wide Local Road Safety Plan (identifies high-priority projects of low, medium, and high cost, allowing dollars to be focused on getting the biggest safety improvements for the least cost)

Road crew working on a traffic signal control box
Updated Technology

Investing TBD funds in state-of-the-art transportation technologies can improve the efficiency of our transportation system by reducing travel times, improving safety, streamlining maintenance, and reducing energy use.

Example Projects

  • Transit/emergency vehicle signal priority (reduces travel time)
  • Pedestrian crossing beacons (improve pedestrian safety)
  • LED street light conversion (improves visibility, reduces power consumption and maintenance)

Potential Funding Sources

State law allows TBDs to collect two types of fees: board-approved and voter-approved fees. The TBD Board is considering two potential funding sources – (1) car tab fees requiring board approval and (2) a sales tax requiring voter approval.

Board approved fees
Annual vehicle license (car tab) fees start at $20 per year and can increase to no more than $50 after 4 years

Voter approved fees
A sales and use tax up to 0.2%, equivalent to 2 cents on a $10 purchase

Other funding options are available but not being considered at this time
Property tax—1-year excess levy
Vehicle tolls

Thurston County's Transportation System by the Numbers

  •  More than 1,026 miles of roadway
  •  150 bridges
  •  107 miles of sidewalks
  •  56 miles of trails
  •  More than 24 miles of guardrails
  •  More than 1,000 streetlights
  •  1,170 Miles of public stormwater conveyance
  •  12 traffic signals
  •  93 stormwater ponds
  •  Over 17,000 traffic signs
  •  Estimated Total Value: $1 Billion


Thurston County Transportation Benefit District FAQs

The following criteria may be used to choose projects: Improved safety, preservation and maintenance of roadways and other transportation facilities, increased vehicle capacity, improved travel times, increased performance of the transportation system overall, other criteria established by the TBD Board.

​Thurston County’s Transportation Benefit District only includes the unincorporated areas of the County. That does not include any incorporated cities or towns, but it does include the urban growth areas just outside the city limits of the cities and towns.  Source: Fehr & Peers, 2018

​The Thurston County TBD Board of Directors consists of all five members of the Thurston County Commission. For more information, visit Meet the Board.

​A TBD can fund transportation improvements contained in any existing state, regional, or local transportation plan that would address existing or foreseeable transportation needs in line with the goals of the TBD – system preservation, roadway safety, and updated technology. Projects must also be included within the boundaries of the TBD (see above). Examples include preservation projects such as sealing pavement cracks on County roads, safety projects such as pedestrian flashing beacons at crosswalks, and technology projects such as new traffic signals that reduce wait time.

​State law allows TBDs to collect two types of fees: board-approved and voter-approved fees.

Board-approved fees include annual vehicle license (car tab) fees that start at $20 per year and can increase to no more than $50 after 4 years, and transportation impact fees on commercial and industrial buildings.

Voter-approved fees include a sales and use tax of up to 0.2%, a 1-year excess levy on property taxes, and vehicle tolls.

Yes. Exempt vehicles include:

  • All farm vehicles
  • Campers
  • Off-road vehicles
  • Snowmobiles
  • Mopeds
  • Personal use trailers with a single axle and less than 2,000 pounds scale weight
  • Combination trailers
  • Trailers used exclusively for hauling logs
  • Horseless carriage, collector, or restored-plate vehicles
  • Converter gear
  • Government vehicles
  • Private school vehicles
  • Vehicles properly registered to disabled American veterans


Sales tax of 0.2%: $1.5 million per year based on 2015 sales tax revenue.

Car tab fee of $20: $1.8 million per year

Car tab fee of $50: $4.7 million per year

1-year excess levy (property tax): $2.8 million per year

Transportation Impact Fees on commercial and industrial buildings: $140,000

Source: Thurston County TBD Informational Briefing, 15 May 2018

​Roads will continue to deteriorate as insufficient funding is available for pavement preservation; and fewer roads will have fog lines, a proven, low-cost means of reducing traffic accidents.

​The TBD board meets each month in open, public meetings. The public is encouraged to attend these meetings or tune into TCTV to learn more about the TBD.