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Tag: Paula Hammond


Gregoire’s task force calls for $21 billion for transportation

A task force convened by Gov. Chris Gregoire has recommended the state raise an additional $21 billion over 10 years to spend on roads, bridges, buses, ferries and other transportation needs.

State voters would likely have the final say on most of the taxes and fees that would pay for the package. A bipartisan cast of lawmakers will start working on the specifics next month with an eye to putting the question to voters on the November ballot.

House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn and other members of the task force acknowledge the difficulty of persuading the public, especially if lawmakers also ask voters to raise the sales tax in April or May to stave off education, health care and public-safety cuts.

“There’s never an exact right time to do any of this,” said Clibborn, D-Mercer Island.

Read the full story.

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Report: Washington bridges more structurally sound than other states

A report out today shows the safety of Washington’s bridges continues to look pretty good compared to national conditions, at least by one measure.

A little more than one in 20 bridges in the state – 5.1 percent – are considered “structurally deficient” by federal engineers. That ranks the state better than all but five other states, and far better than the 11.5 percent national average.

Structurally deficient bridges need significant maintenance or replacement.

Pierce County is just a bit over the state average at 5.5 percent.

Transportation For America, a coalition advocating for more funding for transportation in all its modes, put out national and state reports examining the federal data and said the average daily traffic count on structurally deficient bridges in Washington is 2.9 million.

The group said Washington has done more to protect maintenance funding than other states.

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Rep. Seaquist seeks meeting on Narrows bridge tolls

State Rep. Larry Seaquist wrote to state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond asking her to come to Gig Harbor to answer “executive accountability questions” raised by news that new transponders aren’t being scanned on the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

Seaquist said he has also asked for more detail on costs and savings. The incompatibility of devices could lead the state to forego about $600,000 in toll revenue this year from cars that cameras miss, WSDOT says, but the money the state saved by going to the new transponders more than makes up for the loss.

Here’s Seaquist’s e-mail:

Secretary Hammond, Read more »


Audit finds state Transportation Department grossly mismanaged taxpayer funds

State Transportation Department mismanagement caused a “gross waste of public funds” in a road widening project on State Route 18 near Maple Valley, according to an audit released Tuesday.

The project, which was completed in 2007, suffered from design mistakes, payroll mix-ups and environmental violations, leading to $42.5 million in cost overruns and pledges on the part of Transportation Department officials to manage things differently.

“This was a case where we fully recognized that we had problems with the project,” said Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond of the auditor’s investigation into the project. “This wasn’t new news for us.”

Hammond said the department completed its own investigation of the State Route 18 project in 2004, the same year that the Army Corps of Engineers shut down work in the area because the contractor had been stockpiling debris in the surrounding wetlands.

Jeff Carpenter, a WSDOT construction engineer, said the 2004 investigation did not include reporting on cost overruns because the project was not finished at that point. He said information on the cost of the project was included in the department’s quarterly and annual reports.

The audit came about because of a whistleblower report, submitted under the state’s Whistleblower Act, about mismanagement by the WSDOT during the project.

All together, the project, bid at $55.9 million, cost taxpayers $98.4 million. Change orders, most of which resulted from design errors and environmental violations, cost $16.4 million and the department was fined over $180,000 for breaking environmental rules, including the Clean Water Act.

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Legislators get chance to grill Hammond on viaduct mistake

Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond will face legislators Thursday over her agency’s $890,000 error on the Nalley Valley Viaduct project.

Hammond has said blame for the misplaced ramp off of eastbound state Route 16 goes “up and down the agency” and said she and her staff could have communicated better in the months between the Department of Transportation finding the problem and the public learning about it.

It’s on the agenda for a regularly scheduled joint meeting of the House and Senate transportation committees Thursday.

Among the lawmakers getting the chance to grill Hammond is the chairwoman of the Senate

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