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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Ramiro Chavez, Public Works Dept. Director at (360) 867-2271 or Chavezr@co.thurston.wa.us

Commissioners Approve Transportation Benefit District
Commissioners will serve as board of directors for district covering unincorporated county

The Thurston County Board of Commissioners approved the creation of a Transportation Benefit District in unincorporated Thurston County. Creating the district gives the county the option of seeking additional funds for maintaining and preserving the county's roads, bridges, and overall transportation infrastructure.

State law authorizes cities and counties in Washington to create local transportation benefit districts to help fund public transit operations and local transportation infrastructure. Now that county commissioners have approved the creation of the district, the three commissioners will make up the board of directors for the district, as state law requires.

The board of directors will consider several items in early 2015, including a district charter and bylaws, options for administrative and engineering services, the development of a district work plan, and the implementation of certain revenue sources available to transportation benefit districts, such as a $20 annual car licensing fee. Collecting an annual car licensing fee of $20 for vehicles registered in unincorporated Thurston County would raise approximately $1.8 million annually for county transportation projects.

Commissioners also expressed their intent to pursue a robust community outreach program in early 2015 to get input and opinions from county residents on district revenue options, project priorities and selection criteria, and ideas and feedback on projects in their neighborhoods. Developing a community outreach plan will also be one of the first items the new district's board of directors will tackle in the new year.

Thurston County's transportation system has an estimated value of more than $750 million and includes:
  • More than 1,000 miles of roadway
  • 109 bridges
  • 47 miles of trails
  • More than 110 miles of sidewalks
  • More than 23 miles of guardrail
  • More than 1,000 street lights
  • Nearly 6,500 storm drains
  • 256 storm water ponds
  • More than 17,000 traffic signs

While the county's transportation system is extensive, it also is aging, and the county is struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing costs of maintaining the system. In the last ten years, the revenue the county receives for transportation has grown 16 percent, but the costs of construction have grown by about 80 percent in Washington state, and that wide gap is only growing. The costs of some materials used in road construction are rising at an even faster rate, such as the cost of materials for chipsealing roadways, which has more than doubled in the last ten years.

For more information about the transportation benefit district proposal, the county's transportation infrastructure, and the work of the county's Public Works Department, please visit www.co.thurston.wa.us/publicworks.



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3