Transportation week kicks off in Olympia

Transportation is the name of the game this week in Olympia, with voters across the state calling on state lawmakers to pass a statewide transportation package.

The SR 167 Completion Coalition kicked things off on Wednesday during a reception with lawmakers. Dozens of representatives of labor, business and local government met with policy makers, pressing the case for completing this highway of statewide significance.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy discussed the local impacts, declaring, “Pierce County has the most to gain and the most to lose with the state transportation package.”

Port of Tacoma Commissioner Dick Marzano noted that the package is important not just for the county, but for the entire Puget Sound region. “The ports of Seattle and Tacoma are coming together for the benefit of the entire region,” he said. “We need the state behind us with an investment in transportation.”

Mark Martinez of the Pierce County Building Trades Union summarized it best: “Building SR 167 is all about jobs.”

Seeking to downplay partisan disagreements, Tacoma Pierce County Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Pierson, elaborated: “These aren't Republican jobs. These aren't Democrat jobs. These are 80,000 jobs for the state.”

These voices of support are not limited simply to those in the room. Charles Knutson of the governor’s office made reference to a recent Puget Sound Regional Council public opinion survey that found that transportation “is the #1 issue with voters. 79% say this is their top issue.”

The broad, statewide support for SR 167 was recognized by House Transportation Committee Judy Clibborn. “State Route 167 has been the key to bringing groups together throughout state. This Coalition got the ball rolling in terms of a bipartisan package.”

The progress to date is due in large part to the leadership of lawmakers like Clibborn and Senate Transportation Committee Chair Curtis King. Senator Joe Fain gave praise to both of them. “Judy does not get enough accolades for her great work on this issue….[and] Curtis has visited every corner of the state to understand the transportation needs of every region.”

In the end, the Coalition was reminded about the importance of mobility. As Rep. Jake Fey reminded everyone, the transportation package is “about freeing up the roads, moving the freight and getting people to their jobs.”